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The History of the Future of Education Technology

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    These were my remarks as a guest speaker in Donna Murdoch's class “Online Teaching and Learning – Applying Adult Learning Principles” this evening. I was asked to speak about learning analytics, but like I said in my keynote last week at NMC, ed-tech is boring. So this is a talk about pedometers.

    “Know thyself” – this is an ancient maxim, of course. But it’s become not so much a philosophy of introspection or reflection but a compulsion for data collection and data analysis. We now live in a culture of quantification. (We have for a while now, no doubt.) All this is aided today, no doubt, by new computing technologies that create and collect massive amounts of personal data.

    Learning analytics, in some ways, is a symptom of this data-driven culture – one that also is not new to education. Learning analytics are technologies that support and reflect the idea that we can collect and measure and analyze data about learners in order to know what they know, in order to optimize what and how they learn.

    I want to invoke the guest speaker’s privilege and talk about something slightly different than what I was asked to speak about: that is, learning analytics. Now, I hope you’ll see that almost everything I say is very much related to learning analytics and to education technologies more broadly – to how we’re asked to hand over our personal data to various hardware and software companies, to our employers, to the government, to our schools under the guise of better “outcomes,” more productivity, and so on.

    I want to talk a little bit about fitness trackers this evening.

    “Wearables,” for what it’s worth, were featured in the 2016 Horizon Report for K–12, an annual report that predicts which education technologies are “on the horizon.” The “Quantified Self” appeared on the 2014 Horizon Report for Higher Education. In both cases, the Horizon Report predicted these technologies were four to five years from widespread adoption.

    You hear these sorts of predictions all the time – that everyone is going to own or use X, Y, or Z technology in the next few years – but according to a recent study, only about 10% of Fitbit owners (and that’s of the less than 12% of US consumers own fitness trackers) are still wearing the device after a year.

    Beware the marketing hype.

    Like all technologies, fitness trackers have a history – one that certainly predates Fitbit or Jawbone or the Nike Fuelband.

    There’s some debate about who invented the first pedometer, which remains a core functionality of most activity trackers: that is, counting how many steps one takes per day. Wikipedia lists three possible inventors: Leonardo da Vinci, who sketched the design for a gear-driven device with a pendulum arm that would swing back and forth with every walking leg motion and measure distance traveled; Abraham-Louis Perrelet, a Swiss inventor who built a self-winding watch in 1770 that wound when the wearer walked and then built another device, based on that watch, in 1777 that could measure walking distance; and Thomas Jefferson (Americans do like stories in which we feature prominently in the invention of things, don’t we), who purportedly brought the first pedometer to the US, although it’s not known if he ever improved on the design as he never filed any patents for his inventions. A website that reviews fitness devices also suggests that Jean Fernel, a French craftsman, might have invented the first pedometer in 1525 or Robert Hooke, an English scientist, might have in 1674, or Hubert Sarton, another Frenchman, might’ve in 1778. It was John Harwood, a British man, who was awarded the first patent for a pedometer in 1924. So even if we date pedometers from that patent, we’re still looking at about 100 years of history; if we credit da Vinci, we’re looking at about 500 years of pedometers.

    500 years, and still less than 12% of Americans own a fitness tracker. Be a little skeptical of those who insist that technologies are changing faster than ever or that we’re adopting new technologies more quickly than ever before.

    Now, it’s worth asking why so many inventors have been interested in the pedometer concept. For these men I’ve just named, at least, their interest was not in improving “fitness” per se but in measuring distance. For da Vinci, the device had military applications; he also imagined it would help improve mapping.

    The promotion of the pedometer as a fitness device started in the 1960s when Dr. Yoshiro Hatano, a professor at the Kyushu University of Health and Welfare, undertook some applied research into exercise and calories. Concerned about the rise in obesity in Japan and wanting to promote and reinforce daily activity as part of “good health,” Hatano began selling a device known as “Manpo-kei” – the 10,000 steps meter. Hatano had calculated that the average Japanese person walked about 3500 to 5000 steps a day. By increasing the number of steps to 10,000 (roughly 5 miles), the amount of calories burned obviously would increase as well – up to about 500 calories a day, which could translate into about 20 kilos of weight loss in a year, he claimed. 10,000 steps was, according to the marketing for the Manpo-kei, ideal.

    There are plenty of reasons to question that claim. 10,000 steps is less some medically-advised threshold than it is a marketing gimmick. Hatano could have picked 7500 steps or 13,333. 10,000 steps is a nice round number, one that will take you about 100 minutes of moderate activity to accomplish – but it’s also an arbitrary number. 10,000 steps is a goal that’s based on a lot of assumptions about bodies and activity and physical ability too. Nevertheless the number – and the connection between “steps” and “fitness” – has stuck with us for 50 some-odd years now. 10,000 – that’s the goal that almost all fitness trackers set for us.

    And so, we can debate whether or not measuring “steps” is the same as measuring “fitness.” But we should ask too: How well do these devices actually track “steps”? (Rather, how accurate are they in counting “steps” and converting all our physical activity into “steps”?)

    Surprise, surprise. They’re far from perfect. It depends on where you wear the device – on your wrist, in your bra, in your pocket, in your purse. It depends on what kind of activity you undertake. A study published in 2013 found that these devices tended to underestimate the energy expended while standing or bicycling or jogging uphill. And it depends on the device, the brand. A recent study from Stanford found that six out of seven wristband activity monitors measured heart rate with an error rate of less than 5%. Not too bad. But none of these monitors measured energy expended – a.k.a. calories – accurately. The most accurate fitness device was off by an average of 27%. Off, in other words, by roughly one McDonald’s Cheeseburger.

    These errors are pretty important if you’re making decisions about your diet based on the data you glean from your fitness tracker– like should you have a McDonald’s Cheeseburger or another glass of wine. These errors are really important if someone else is making decisions about you based on this data – like your employer deciding whether your participation in the company wellness program is adequate. Or your health insurance company deciding whether to deny you coverage based on your physical activity or lack thereof. Or your school tracking how much you exercise and what you eat and how much (and where) you sleep and giving you a grade for it.

    Oral Roberts University, for example, beginning in the spring of 2016, required its incoming students to wear a Fitbit and encouraged them to log their personal data in the learning management system.

    Also in 2016, the University of Michigan signed a $170 million deal with Nike. One provision of the contract allows Nike“to harvest personal data from Michigan athletes through the use of wearable technology like heart-rate monitors, GPS trackers and other devices that log myriad biological activities.”

    Are these examples of “learner data”? They’re certainly examples of “student data,” right?

    Whose data does the data collected by a fitness tracker belong to? What do the Terms of Service say? (You’ve read the Terms of Service, right?) What else, in addition to how many steps a wearer has taken in a day, do these devices track? What does the fitness tracker maker use this data for? Who does the fitness tracker maker share the data with? Who does the fitness tracker maker sell the data to? How long does the company retain it? Can a user request a copy of their data? Can the user delete it? These aren’t medically-approved devices, of course, but what is being collected is, no doubt, sensitive health data. Is that data safe, secure, private? Are there any legal protections regarding this data – that is, does it count as part of someone’s “medical record”?

    What are the implications when we compel people – through health insurance or through employment or through the learning management system – to be monitored in this way?

    The marketing tells us that this sort of tracking should be done for our own good, for our health and well-being. We should want to track and be tracked. The science? Well, the science, not so much. Indeed, one study published last year in the journal of the American Medical Association, found that those who wore fitness trackers lost less weight than those who did not.

    Yes, that’s just one study. I hear a lot of people say – anecdotal data – that they like their fitness tracker because it motivates them to move. They say they like the “gamification” of exercise – earning points and badges, sharing their efforts via social media, and so on. They insist they need this extrinsic motivation as their intrinsic motivation simply isn’t enough. Not 10,000 steps worth of enough, that is.

    And Americans have been tracking calories for quite some time now. Again, there’s a history here – why the calorie is the unit of measurement. Like the invention of the pedometer, there are many origin stories we could tell here – the development of the science of human nutrition in the early twentieth century. I’ll give you one name (because I’ve only mentioned men so far): Lulu Hunt Peters, an American doctor, who published the bestselling diet book Diet & Health: With Key to the Calories in 1918 and who popularized the idea that if you counted calories, you can lose weight.

    500 years of pedometers. 100 years of counting calories. 50 years of connecting “steps” and “fitness.” Today’s fitness tracker isn’t new, but rather fits quite neatly into a long social and technological history. We are very accustomed to the stories about measuring these data-points for the sake of our personal health and well-being. There’s a cultural logic to the fitness tracker.

    Of course, as the familiar saying (often misattributed to Einstein) goes, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”

    Is this meaningful data? Are “steps” or “calories” meaningful units of measurement, for example? What can we truly know based on this data? Are our measurements accurate? Is our analysis, based on the data that we’ve collected, accurate? What sorts of assumptions are we making when we collect and analyze this data? Assumptions about bodies, for example. Assumptions about what to count. Assumptions and value judgments about “health”? How much is science, and how much is marketing? Whose data is this? Who owns it? Who controls it? Who gets to see it? Is this data shared or sold? Is there informed consent? Are people being compelled to surrender their data? Are people being profiled based on this data? Are decisions being made about them based on this data? Are those decisions transparent? Are they done via algorithms – predictive modeling, for example, that tries to determine some future behavior based on past signals? Who designs the algorithms? What sorts of biases do these algorithms encode? How does the collection and analysis of data shape behavior? Does it incentivize certain activities and discourage others? Who decides what behaviors constitute “good health”?

    Those are questions we should consider regarding fitness trackers, sure. But they’re questions for all sorts of technologies – education and otherwise.

    Please ask these questions when you hear the marketing for “learning analytics.” I’m going to re-state that previous paragraph:

    Is this meaningful data? Are “test scores” or “grades” meaningful units of measurement, for example? What can we truly know based on this data? Are our measurements accurate? Is our analysis, based on the data that we’ve collected, accurate? What sorts of assumptions are we making when we collect and analyze this data? Assumptions about bodies, for example. Assumptions about what to count. Assumptions and value judgments about “learning”? How much is science, and how much is marketing? Whose data is this? Who owns it? Who controls it? Who gets to see it? Is this data shared or sold? Is there informed consent? Are people being compelled to surrender their data? Are people being profiled based on this data? Are decisions being made about them based on this data? Are those decisions transparent? Are they done via algorithms – predictive modeling, for example, that tries to determine some future behavior based on past signals? Who designs the algorithms? What sorts of biases do these algorithms encode? How does the collection and analysis of data shape behavior? Does it incentivize certain activities and discourage others? Who decides what behaviors constitute “a good student” or “a good teacher” or “a good education”?

    Is learning analytics (or your fitness tracker) a way you can “know thyself”?


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  • 06/23/17--05:00: Hack Education Weekly News
  • (National) Education Politics


    Via Pacific Standard: “Government Watchdog Will Investigate Trump Administration on Civil Rights.”

    Via Bloomberg: “Campus Rape Loses Special Status in Trump’s Education Department.”

    Via The Washington Post: “Education Dept. closes transgender student cases as it pushes to scale back civil rights investigations.”

    Via The New York Times: “Trump Move on Job Training Brings ‘Skills Gap’ Debate to the Fore.”

    More on the business of job training in its own section below.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Summer Pell Grants will be available to students beginning July 1, the Department of Education announced Monday.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The U.S. Department of Education on Thursday offered a first glimpse at how it is carrying out the Trump administration’s push to ease federal regulations– and asked for advice on what rules it should eliminate.” Among those regulations: FERPA. So that’ll be fun. More via The Hill and via the Department of Education’s press office.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Landmark Law on Higher Education Should Be Scrapped, DeVos Suggests.” That’s the Higher Education Act of 1965.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Here’s Every Major Statement Trump and DeVos Have Made on Higher Ed.”

    There were so many falsehoods in Trump’s rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa this week, that The New York Times had a “fact-check” in almost every paragraph of its coverage, countering the claims Trump made on stage. Edsurge runs with Trump’s promise to boost rural broadband like it’s a truth anyone can count on.

    Tech CEOs visited the White House to talk about “modernizing” a.k.a. “technologizing” the government. “Apple CEO Tim Cook Urges Trump To Mandate Coding In Schools,” according to Edsurge. Google’s chairman Eric Schmidt praises Trump.

    Via The Washington Post: “A teacher’s decision to be ‘visibly queer’ in his photo with President Trump.” Teacher of the Year indeed.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The British government releases the results … of its new three-tiered rating system of teaching quality at universities.”

    More on the politics of student loans in the student loan section below. And more on the US Department of Education activities in the campus section and HR section below.

    (State and Local) Education Politics


    Via The LA School Report: “LAUSD approves $7.5 billion budget under cloud of declining enrollment and future cuts.”

    Louisiana Becomes First State to Ban the Box,” Inside Higher Ed reports. That is, to ban the box on an application (for a job or to a public college) asking about criminal history.

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Sweeping New Fla. Law Set to Shake Up Charter School Landscape, Testing.”

    Immigration and Education


    Via AZ Central: “Arizona Appeals Court overturns in-state tuition for ‘dreamers’.”

    Via NPR: “For Some Students, Getting An Education Means Crossing The Border.”

    Via Axios: “Trump plans to scrap rule allowing foreign founders into U.S.”

    Via the BBC: “Accenture and Microsoft plan digital IDs for millions of refugees.” What could possibly go wrong?

    Education in the Courts


    Via Nature: “One of the world’s largest science publishers, Elsevier, won a default legal judgement on 21 June against websites that provide illicit access to tens of millions of research papers and books. A New York district court awarded Elsevier US$15 million in damages for copyright infringement by Sci-Hub, the Library of Genesis (LibGen) project and related sites.” More via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Three major textbook publishers sue the bookstore provider Follett, alleging failure to stop selling pirated versions of their books.” The publishers in question are Cengage, McGraw-Hill, and Pearson.

    Via The LA Times: “Lawsuit alleges hostile environment for Jews on San Francisco State campus.”

    More on the legal battles of “Dreamers” in the immigration section above.

    Testing, Testing…


    Via Chalkbeat: “Calculator mix-up could force some students to retake ISTEP, and Pearson is partially to blame.” ISTEP is the Indiana state standardized test.

    Via The Dispatch: “Miss. Dept of Education fires testing firm after exams wrongly scored.” The testing firm in question: Pearson.

    The Business of Student Loans


    Via Buzzfeed: “Betsy DeVos Picked A Student Loan CEO To Run The Student Loan System.” A. Wayne Johnson is the CEO of Reunion Student Loan Services. Nothing to see here… Move along…

    Via Buzzfeed: “Public Service Loan Forgiveness Isn’t Working, Watchdog Says.”

    Via CBS: “Here come higher student loan interest rates.”

    Via the AP: “The nation’s largest servicer of federal student loans has lobbied against states’ efforts to license student loan servicers in Maine and elsewhere this year as it seeks to become the nation’s single servicer of student loans under a plan backed by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.” That would be Navient Corp.

    Via NPR: “Federal Officials Turn To Private Law Firms To Chase Student Loan Debtors.”

    Research from New America says that “allowing borrowers to refinance federal student loans finds that most of the benefits of refinancing would be seen by a small number of households with relatively high debt.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


    For-profit Hickey College will close.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The as-yet unnamed online university resulting from the proposed acquisition of Kaplan University by Purdue University has set discounted tuition rates for in-state students and free tuition for Purdue employees.”

    Regulations regarding for-profit higher ed are too heavy-handed, according to an op-ed in Inside Higher Ed written by a member of the board of Walden University, a for-profit university.

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


    Via The Post and Courier: “South Carolina’s online charter schools: A $350 million investment with disappointing returns.”

    “Students’ Rising Expectations Pose Challenge to Online Programs,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

    Meanwhile on Campus…


    Via NJ.com: “Charter school won’t pay teachers for final 2 months, union says.” The charter school, which is closing it doors, is the Merit Preparatory Charter School, run by “personalized learning” charter chain Matchbook Learning. (Here’s a sponsored article, paid for by the Gates Foundation and published by Edsurge promoting the school and its technology.)

    Via The Lens: “Charter school kept two homeless children out of class for a month because they didn’t have uniforms.” That is the Sophie B. Wright Charter School in New Orleans.

    Via The 74: “Montessori Was the Original Personalized Learning. Now, 100 Years Later, Wildflower Is Reinventing the Model.” (This reminds me that I need to write something about the history of Montessori and why all sorts of companies have appropriated the brand.)

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Education Dept. Closes Title IX Investigation of Liberty U.”

    Via The New York Times: “A College Built for Canadian Settlers Envisions an Indigenous Future.” That’s the University of Saskatchewan.

    Via The New York Times: “Dallas Schools, Long Segregated, Charge Forward on Diversity.”

    “Why So Many Top Hackers Hail from Russia,” according to information security journalist Brian Krebs. Spoiler alert: computer science is required in school.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “How Conservative Media Outlets Turn Faculty Viewpoints Into National News.”

    Via The New York Times: “The Media Brought the Alt-Right to My Campus.”

    Via The New York Times: “A Campus Argument Goes Viral. Now the College Is Under Siege.” That’s Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.

    Accreditation, Certification, and “Competencies”


    Inside Higher Ed reports on the appearance of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Distance Education Accrediting Commission before a federal panel on accreditation.

    Via CNN: “ The Girl Scouts are adding a cybersecurity badge.”

    “The Competency-Based Education Network, a grant-funded group of 30 institutions with competency-based programs, has become a free-standing nonprofit association and is opening up its membership,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Go, School Sports Team!


    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “U. of Oregon Athlete Played a Season While Under Investigation for Sexual Assault.” The athlete was Kavell Bigby-Williams, a UO men’s basketball player. “Mr. Bigby-Williams has been under investigation by the campus police of the Northern Wyoming Community College District since September 19, the newspaper said. He is accused of sexually assaulting a woman near Gillette College, where he was a student before transferring to Oregon, the Daily Emerald reported.” Fire Coach Dana Altman now.

    From the HR Department


    The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has hired Bror Saxberg to handle its “learning engineering” efforts. Saxberg had previously been the Chief Learning Officer at Kaplan (and Edsurge, when covering the news, fails to disclose its financial ties to Kaplan).

    Via Education Week: “Teachers’ Union Faces Backlash Over Publication on Personalized Learning.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Staffing Woes at the Education Department.”

    More on Department of Education hires in the student loan section above.

    Via NPR: “At Yale, Protests Mark A Fight To Recognize Union For Grad Students.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “AAUP Considers Paying Adjuncts in Its Leadership Posts.”

    The Business of Job Training


    This piece– “We Need to Rethink How We Educate Kids to Tackle the Jobs of the Future” – is a couple weeks old but I’m including it here nonetheless because of this priceless line: “The truth is, there is little taught in school that today can’t be handled with a quick Google search and an Excel spreadsheet.”

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “German-Style Apprenticeships Simply Can’t Be Replicated.”

    Via Andy Smarick, writing for the American Enterprise Institute’s blog: “Pumping the brakes on apprenticeships.”

    Upgrades and Downgrades


    “Mark Zuckerberg just unveiled Facebook’s new mission statement,” says The Verge. It changes from making the world more open and connected“ to ”give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together." This wasn’t really what I was talking about, Zuck, when I talk about the ideology of personalization.

    Via Buzzfeed: “ Violence On Facebook Live Is Worse Than You Thought.” Because, you know, Facebook’s mission is “community.”

    Via Creative Commons: “Toward a Better Internet: Building Prosocial Behavior into the Commons.”

    Also via Creative Commons: “Community update: Unsplash branded license and ToS changes.” Unsplash is a photo sharing website.

    Via Edsurge: “How Amazon’s Purchase of Whole Foods Highlights the Hybrid, ‘Omnichannel’ Future of Higher Ed.” #NotTheOnion

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “Media Startups Try a Lower-Cost Model: Unpaid Student Writers.”

    Via The Verge: “Google Glass gets its first update in nearly three years.” Phew! Just in time for all those ISTE sessions claiming Google Glass is the future of education.

    In other Google news, “Google Will Stop Reading Your Emails for Gmail Ads,” Bloomberg reports.

    Stanford University’s Larry Cuban continues his analysis of behavioral management tool ClassDojo.

    LMS news from Edsurge: “​University of Michigan’s Gamified LMS Opens Up to Other Institutions.”

    “Stale Words and Hackneyed Ideas That Make Edtech Investors Cringe,” according to an investor in Edsurge. Among those cringeworthy ideas: the LMS.

    Via Bloomberg: “Mattel’s CEO Thinks Internet-Connected Toys Are the Future.”

    “New houses will have Alexa and Wi-Fi built into the walls,” according to Mashable.

    Via Buzzfeed: “Bill Cosby Is Going To Educate People On How To Avoid Sexual Assault Allegations.”

    Via Pando: “Binary Capital’s Justin Caldbeck accused of unwanted sexual advances towards female founders. Where’s the outrage?” (Among those education companies in Binary Capital’s investment portfolio: Educents.)

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


    Via Edsurge: “Why a Robot-Filled Education Future May Not Be as Scary as You Think.” It’s also going to apparently be full of bullshit, made-up “statistics” about the future.

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform


    There’s HR news from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative in the HR section above.

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


    Behavioral management company Hero K12 has raised $150 million from BV Investment Partners.

    Tutoring company Ruangguru has raised $7 million in Series B funding.

    Lingokids has raised $4 million in seed funding from HV Holtzbrinck Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Big Sur Ventures, JME Venture Capital, and Sabadell Venture Capital. The vocabulary game maker has made $5.15 million total.

    MyTutor has raised $3.82 million in Series A funding from Mobeus Equity Partners, Clive Cowdery, and Thomas Hoegh. The tutoring startup has raised $5.36 million total.

    Wonderschool has raised $2 million in seed funding from Cross Culture Ventures, First Round, Edelweiss, FundersClub, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, and SoftTech VC. According to the company description, “Wonderschool offers a platform where people can start infant and toddler programs and preschools out of their homes.”

    Hugsy has raised $226,460 in seed funding from the Leapfunder European angel investor network. Hugsy makes a “smart baby blanket.” (Yes, I’m tracking on this sort of thing as part of my 2017 “Top Ed-Tech Trends.”)

    Carson-Dellosa has acquiredRourke Educational Media.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


    Congrats to the education company Road Scholar for appearing in this Gizmodo story about how companies surreptitiously collect your data. “Before You Hit ‘Submit,’ This Company Has Already Logged Your Personal Data.”

    Data and “Research”


    Via investment analysis firm CB Insights: “The Ed Tech Market Map: 90+ Startups Building The Future Of Education.” The map isn’t that useful, to be honest. The list of which education technology companies have raised the most money is more so.

    The History of Pearson.

    Via Education Week: “Online Classes for K–12 Students: 10 Research Reports You Need to Know.”

    Via IRRODL: “Khan Academy as Supplemental Instruction: A Controlled Study of a Computer-Based Mathematics Intervention.”

    Via IHE blogger Joshua Kim: “The Institutional Impact of Maryville’s 1:1 iPad Program.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Last year Achieving the Dream began a $9.8-million project to use open educational resources (OER) to create degree programs at 38 community colleges. A study on early returns, which was conducted by SRI International and the rpk GROUP, found that faculty members are changing their teaching in the OER courses and that students are at least as engaged in the courses as they are in conventional ones.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “5 Cocktail-Party-Conversation Findings From the Latest Survey of College Presidents.”

    Speaking of cocktail party conversations, The Hechinger Report notes that “Unlike the students they oversee, most college presidents are white and male.”

    Education Next publishes an excerpt from Daniel Willingham’s new book The Reading Mind: A Cognitive Approach to Understanding How the Mind Reads.

    Via Edsurge: “Low Income and Looking For a Successful School. Study Shows Choices Are Slim.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Measuring Learning Outcomes From Military Service.”

    Via Education Week: “Immersive Tech, Virtual Reality Market to Soar Worldwide, New Analysis Predicts.”

    Via NPR: “U.N. Says World’s Population Will Reach 9.8 Billion By 2050.” More on population changes and how this might affect higher education from Bryan Alexander.

    “Published in 2008, ‘Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns’ predicted that the growth in computer-based delivery of education will accelerate swiftly until, by 2019, half of all high school classes will be taught over the Internet,” writes EdTech Strategies’ Doug Levin, asking “Are We On Track?

    (For what it’s worth, I’m tracking all these predictions about the future at predictions.contrafabulists.com.)

    RIP


    Via The Washington Post: “Otto Warmbier dies days after release from North Korean detention.”

    Gary Stager pens an obituary for Bob Tinker who passed away this week. A proponent of constructivist learning (particularly with regards to science and technology), Tinker created “probeware” and founded the Concord Consortium, among many other contributions to the field of ed-tech.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project


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  • 06/30/17--08:00: Hack Education Weekly News
  • (National) Education Politics


    Via ProPublica: “Democratic Senators Condemn Betsy DeVos’ Record on Civil Rights.”

    “New Evidence Shows DeVos Is Discarding College Policies That Are Effective,” writes Kevin Carey in The New York Times. These include regulations for for-profit universities.

    Via Politico: “The Education Department may soon stop publishing a weekly list of colleges and universities under investigation for allegedly mishandling sexual violence claims– a list that started with 55 schools when it was first published in 2014 and has since ballooned to nearly 240 as of this week. Candice Jackson, the acting head of the department’s Office for Civil Rights, called it a ‘list of shame’ this week at the National Association of College and University Attorneys conference in Chicago where she said it’s high on the list of things the Trump administration may soon do away with.”

    Trump’s administration wants to hide colleges that have problems with sexual assault,” write Dana Bolger and Alexandra Brodsky in The Washington Post.

    “What Would the Repeal of Higher Ed’s Foundational Law Mean for Colleges?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    More on the politics (and business) of student loans in the student loans section below.

    The TSA has been testing a new program for examining passengers’ carry-on luggage that included asking them to remove their books from their bags. After protest from libraries and civil liberties groups, the TSA said it would abandon the program.

    Mark Zuckerberg is totally not running for President


    “What Would a Mark ZuckerbergPresidential Run Mean for Education?” asks Education Week.

    More on Zuckerberg (and Facebook) in the upgrades/downgrades section and in the venture philanthropy sections below.

    NASA Denies That It’s Running a Child Slave Colony on Mars,” The Daily Beast reports, after InfoWars’ Alex Jones had a guest on his show explaining how kidnapped children are part of a space mission.

    (State and Local) Education Politics



    Via the CBLDF: “Florida Governor Signs School Censorship Bill into Law.” The law will make it easier to challenge classroom materials that fail to offer a “noninflammatory, objective, and balanced viewpoint on issues,” whatever that means.

    “The Wisconsin State Assembly passed the Campus Free Speech Act in the House, which would suspend or expel University of Wisconsin students who disrupt a campus speaker they disagree with,” NPR reports.

    The New York State Assembly has approved a deal to extend mayoral control of NYC schools for two years.

    Via The Washington Post: “In a first, Texas Boys State votes to secede from Union.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “California’s ban on using state funds to travel to Texas highlights the dilemma facing national groups with meetings scheduled to take place there.”

    Immigration and Education


    Via Pacific Standard: “Supreme Court Allows Limited Trump Travel Ban to Take Effect.” It appears to exclude university students and faculty.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and nine other state Republican attorneys general sent a letter Thursday threatening to sue if the Trump administration does not ‘phase out’ the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, under which more than 700,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, many of them now college students, have obtained two-year, renewable work permits and protection against deportation.”

    Education in the Courts


    Via NPR: “Supreme Court Rules Religious School Can Use Taxpayer Funds For Playground.” More via the NEA and via a very excited Betsy DeVos. (Via The Washington Post: “Why Betsy DeVos is cheering the Supreme Court’s church playground decision.”)

    More Supreme Court rulings in the immigration section above.

    Via Education Week: “K–12 and the U.S. Supreme Court: Highlights of the 2016–17 Term.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “Colorado Supreme Court ordered to reconsider Douglas County school voucher case.”

    Via The Washington Post: “Federal appeals court upholds ruling against D.C. on special-needs students.”

    Via Politico: “The University of California-Berkeley late Wednesday filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against the school in which conservative student groups allege college administrators violated their free speech rights when they canceled a talk by conservative commentator Ann Coulter in April. Berkeley officials have said they canceled the original speech because of security concerns and they invited Coulter to speak at a later date.”

    Via Pacific Standard: “A Second Mistrial Declared for University of Cincinnati Officer Who Killed an Unarmed Man at a Traffic Stop.”

    Via Buzzfeed: “A Teacher Is Suing Breitbart And James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas For Defamation.”

    Via The New York Times: “New York’s Top Court Narrows Suit Seeking More Money for Schools.”

    California Supreme Court refuses to hear appeal from alumni trying to block admission of women” at Deep Springs College, Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Via Education Week: “Mistrial declared in case involving 5 ex-El Paso educators.” The case involves educators who’d allegedly conspired to alter test scores.

    The American Chemical Society has filed a lawsuit against Sci-Hub, countering the article-sharing site violates the society’s copyrights.

    More on for-profit higher ed’s legal battles in the for-profit higher ed section below. More on sports-related court cases (that is, sexual assault by athletes) in the sports section below.

    Testing, Testing…


    More on testing in the courts section above.

    “Free College”


    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Oregon officials are planning to alter the requirements for the state’s tuition-free Promise program. The new requirements would cut off grants to wealthier families.”

    The Business of Student Loans


    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Student advocates say Education Department’s slow processing of borrower-defense claims and blocking of ban on mandatory arbitration put defrauded borrowers in a bind.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


    The for-profit vocational school chain Vatterott Education Centers has filed for receivership.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A federal district court judge issued an order Wednesday partially blocking enforcement of the gainful-employment rule for cosmetology schools that sued in February to halt the regulation.”

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


    Via the Community College Daily: “California governor calls for new online college.” More via Inside Higher Ed.

    Meanwhile on Campus…


    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Trinity College in Connecticut places Johnny Eric Williams on leave over controversial comments about race. Faculty groups say college is undermining academic freedom.” More via Academe Blog.

    “Why Can’t ‘Free Speech’ Advocates Ever Defend Adjunct Professors and People of Color?” asks David Perry in the Pacific Standard.

    The Atlantic on prison education: “The Lifelong Learning of Lifelong Inmates.”

    Via The Daytona Beach News-Journal: “Tax documents show [Bethune-Cookman University] losses mounting to $17.8 million.”

    Via The New York Times: “A Battle Over Prayer in Schools Tests Canada’s Multiculturalism.”

    Accreditation and Certification


    The University of Missouri at Columbia has revoked the honorary degree it awarded Bill Cosby.

    Via ProPublica: “Despite Exposés and Embarrassments, Hundreds of Judges Preside in New York Without Law Degrees.”

    Via The New York Times: “A New Kind of Tech Job Emphasizes Skills, Not a College Degree.”

    A report from New America: “Rethinking Credential Requirements in Early Education.”

    “Why Ph.D.s belong in the high school classroom” by Liana M. Silva.

    The Chronicle of Higher Education on a group that wants to “disrupt” accreditation: “Backers of an Audit Model for Judging Education Quality Invite Feedback.” It would be great if, when writing about Entangled Solutions, journalists would mention its founder’s history of accreditation “problems.”

    Go, School Sports Team!


    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Jury Convicts 3rd Former Vanderbilt U. Athlete in 2013 Gang Rape.”

    From the HR Department


    Google has released its latest employee diversity statistics. Spoiler alert: Google is not very diverse.

    The Atlantic looks at the right of graduate students to unionize and asks whether the NLRB will reverse its decision under Trump.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Colleges With the Highest Average Pay for Full Professors, 2015–16.”

    City College of San Francisco has hired Mark Rocha as its new chancellor, a decision opposed by CCSF faculty.

    Williams College president Adam Falk is stepping down from that role to become the president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

    Inside Higher Ed reports that Ted Mitchell, former venture capitalist and Under Secretary of Education under the Obama administration, is one of the finalists to be the next president of the American Council on Education (ACE), a higher ed lobbying organization.

    More in the “meanwhile on campus” section above about academic freedom and faculty’s employment status.

    The Business of Job Training


    Via Edsurge: “​The Cost of Cutting in Line: Students Can Now Buy Their Way to a Job Interview.”

    Via Techcrunch: “Headstart wants to better analyze candidates to fit them with the best jobs.”

    Via Edsurge: “​Intel Announces $4.5M Grant Program Targeting 6 HBCUs.” The money is for “skills training.”

    An article by the founder of alumni networking company Switchboard in Edsurge: “The Rise of the Rest: How Black Colleges Are Redesigning Career Support.”

    (Pay attention to these job recruitment and job placement startups as they’re part of a larger narrative about disrupting higher ed, as well as HR. I think it’s probably worth paying attention too to how HBCUs are being wielded in this conversations.)

    Conferences


    Lots of updates from the massive vendor display called ISTE:

    Google issued a press release.

    Edsurge writes about“​Updates, Upgrades and Overheard: What Was Unveiled at ISTE 2017.” (It’s interesting to see what it chose to highlight.)

    Also via Edsurge: “Teachers at ISTE Share Their Definitions of Personalized Learning…and They’re All Different.”

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


    “Can a Tech Start-Up Successfully Educate Children in the Developing World?” asks Peg Tyre in The New York Times Magazine.

    “Could XPrize tablets replace teachers in Tanzania?” asks the BBC.

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

    Upgrades and Downgrades


    The History of Teaching Machines.

    Via Education Week: “‘Mass Personalization’ Drives Learning Experiment at AltSchool.”

    Via The New York Times: “How Silicon Valley Pushed Coding Into American Classrooms.”

    “We Regret to Inform You That Fidget Spinners Are Now Exploding,” says Gizmodo.

    Technical publisher O’Reillysays it is closing its e-bookstore at shop.oreilly.com. It will continue to offer its titles through Safari Books Online, as well as through other retailers.

    “What Happened to Amazon Inspire, the Tech Giant’s Education Marketplace?” asks Edsurge.

    “Misinterpreting the Growth Mindset: Why We’re Doing Students a Disservice” – a guest post in Education Week’s Common Ground blog by John Hattie.

    More on marketing mindsets from Edsurge: “Summer PD Feel Overwhelming? An Improviser’s Mindset Can Help You Keep Cool.”

    In other teacher PD news: “These Teachers Are Learning Gun Skills To Protect Students, They Say,” says NPR.

    And speaking of cognitive silliness, here’s a great headline from Edsurge: “Stop Calling College Teachers ‘Professors.’ Try ‘Cognitive Coaches,’ Says Goucher President.”

    Via ProPublica: “Facebook’s Secret Censorship Rules Protect White Men from Hate Speech But Not Black Children.”

    Via Techcrunch: “Facebook equips admins to protect and analyze their Groups.” Among the ways you can “protect” your Groups: setting filter to block people whose Facebook accounts list certain genders or people from certain locations.

    More on Zuckerberg’s involvement in education in the venture philanthropy section and the politics section above below.

    Y Combinator Has Gone Supernova” by Wired’s Steven Levy. (This list is probably a little out-of-date, but here are the education companies Y Combinator has invested in.)

    OpenStax predicts students at its partner schools will save $8.2 million in the upcoming school year thanks to its freely available textbooks.

    Edsurge writes about“When ELA Tools Can’t Adapt to Students’ Native Language.” (Pay attention to how education technology companies see ELL as a “hot new market.”)

    Curriculet is back from the dead, says Edsurge, failing to disclose that it shares investors with the company.

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “With the ‘Coming Battles’ Between People and Machines, Educators Are All the More Vital.” (An interview with Coursera co-founder Andrew Ng, who is on to his next gig, Deeplearning.ai.)

    Via Techcrunch: “Disney experiments look to make kid-robot interactions more natural.”

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform


    Via Education Week: “Chan-Zuckerberg to Push Ambitious New Vision for Personalized Learning.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


    Abl has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding from Rethink Education, Sinovation Ventures, Owl Ventures, Reach Capital, and First Round Capital. The scheduling software has raised $12 million total.

    Mystery Science has raised $2 million in seed funding from Y Combinator, Reach Capital, 500 Startups, and Learn Capital. The science lesson company has raised $2.8 million total.

    Curriculum company Verso Learning has raised $2 million in Series A funding from Ken Lowe.

    Outschool has raised $1.4 million from the Collaborative Fund, Sesame Workshop, Caterina Fake, FundersClub, Learn Capital, Spectrum 28, SV Angel, and Y Combinator. The startup, which offers a marketplace for homeschooled children to find online classes, has raised $1.52 million.

    Learning analytics company BrightBytes has acquiredAuthentica Solutions.

    Participate Learning has acquiredEduclipper.

    Certica has acquiredUnbound Concepts. Certica has also acquiredItemLogic.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


    “How can educators measure and predict grit in their students?” asks Education Dive.

    Via Education Week: “Maryland Dad Wants June 30 to Be ‘National Student Data Deletion Day’.”From that dad, Bradley Shear’s blog post:

    I am calling for all K–12 public schools and their vendors to automatically delete the following data points each and every June 30th after the school year has ended:


    All student Internet browsing history

    All student school work saved on platforms such as the Google G Suite

    All student created emails (and all other digital communications)

    All behavioral data points/saved class interactions (e.g. Class Dojo data points)

    All student physical location data points (e.g. obtained via RFID tags)

    All biometric data collected and tied to a student account (e.g. meal purchase information)

    Etc…

    Via Edsurge: “​Report Finds Nearly 14M College Emails, Passwords For Sale on the Dark Web.”

    The Seattle Times asks, “Did you get the letter? WSU sends warning to 1 million people after hard drive with personal info is stolen.”

    Via Edsurge: “Carnegie Mellon Study Shows Edtech Startups Fall Flat on Student Privacy.”

    “Dear Parents: Your Concerns About Student Privacy Are Being Exploited,” says the Center for Data Innovation, an industry think tank run by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, whose funders include Google and IBM.

    Via The Guardian: “Google begins removing private medical records from search results.”

    Another week, another big “ransomware” attack.


    Data and “Research”


    “From Mexico to China: Why the World Is Interested in the US Edtech Market,” says Edsurge.

    An infographic from Pitchbook: “A second wind: VC investment in edtech is rising again.”

    “The Carefully Sculpted Reality of the Meeker Trends Reportby Tom Webster. Spoiler alert: Meeker’s “trends” showcase Meeker’s VC firm’s investments.

    Via Education Week: “The Market in India: Surging Demand for English-Language Schools.”

    Via eCampus News: “The size of the online learning market was estimated to be over USD 165 billion in 2015 and is likely to grow by 5 percent by 2023, exceeding USD 240 billion.” Yay. Predictions. Yay. Markets.

    Via Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill: “Academic LMS Market Share: A view across four global regions.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “First study of Indiana’s voucher program– the country’s largest – finds it hurts kids’ math skills at first, but not over time.” More from NPR, which also includes information from a voucher study in Louisiana.

    The The LA Times: “1 in 5 L.A. community college students is homeless, survey finds.”

    Via SchoolHouse Connection: “New Report Highlights FAFSA Challenges for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth.”

    More on changing US demographics from Bryan Alexander.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Spring Data Show Increase in Foreign Students.”

    There’s more HR-related data in the HR section above.

    Via Edsurge: “​Study Shows E-rate Improved Internet Speed for 79% of Applicants.”

    “The Disrespect of the TEF” by Liz Morrish. TEF is the “Teaching Excellence Framework,” a new ratings system for UK universities.

    Via Edsurge: “​Study Finds Institutions Could Generate $1M Annually With Higher Student Retention.”

    “What Teens Want From Their Schools” – a survey from the right-wing think tank, the Thomas Fordham Institute.

    Via Politico: “Adults see young black girls as needing less nurturing and protection than their white peers, according to a new study that may shed light on some of the reasons that black girls are disciplined at a higher rate than white girls.”

    Via the Pew Research Center: “Millennials are the most likely generation of Americans to use public libraries.”

    Also from Pew: “US Public Trust in Science and Scientists.” See also: the press release NASA had to release this week in the politics section above.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project


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    There have been several articles in the industry and investor press recently that describe the ed-tech market as “on the rebound,” with venture capitalists getting their “second wind” and finding ed-tech once again to be something worth throwing money at.

    Yay.

    And indeed, according to my calculations too, the amount of money invested in education technology companies is up from this time last year and up from this time in 2015 as well. (And 2015 was a record-setting year for ed-tech investment.)

    For what it’s worth, investment analyst firm CB Insights predicts that funding this year will not exceed that 2015 level, but one of the reasons I like to track the data myself is that everyone’s numbers and everyone’s assessment of the industry seem to be different, depending in part on “what counts” as ed-tech.

    2017 vs. Previous Years


    So far this year, there have been 95 investments in ed-tech companies, totaling $1.8 billion. (And yes, I do include student loan companies here. If you’re an ed-tech analyst and you insist that private student loans are something you shouldn’t or needn’t monitor, you’re not paying attention to what’s going on.)

    The average investment this year has been $21.2 million. (The median investment size: $4 million.)

    Here’s a comparison of what funding looked like in Julys of previous years:

    What Kind of Companies Are Raising Money?


    More than half of deals so far this year have been in what some call “early stage” companies – that is, companies raising seed or their first venture capital funding.

    But the bulk of dollars have gone to “late stage” companies. Companies raising seed funding have raised $55 million so far this year. Companies raising C, D, and F rounds have raised over $1 billion.

    Investment By Country


    Number of deals by country:

    $1.4 billion in venture capital has gone to US companies so far this year. $280 million has gone to Chinese companies. $34 million has gone to Canadian companies. $25 million has gone to Indian companies.

    What Do These Startups Do?


    Investors seem to really like “online education.” There have been 9 investments so far this year in companies that describe themselves that way – what a broad description, I realize – for a total of $320 million.

    Tutoring companies also remain popular: 8 investments totaling $151 million.

    There were 4 investments in coding bootcamps, totaling $37.6 million.

    The type of startup receiving the most funding: student loan companies, which have raised $540 million so far this year.

    To Whom Are These Startups Selling?


    Investments in companies serving the K–12 sector make up the majority of those funded so far this year. (But note: the kinds of companies that get coverage in the ed-tech and tech press – those that I’m likely to see and include in my research – are more likely to be those targeting K–12 and post-secondary education than those targeting the corporate learning market.)

    The Biggest Investments So Far This Year


    The companies that have raised the most money so far this year:

    • SoFi (private student loans) – $500 million
    • EverFi (“critical skills” training) – $190 million
    • Hero K12 (behavior management) – $150 million
    • Yuanfandao (tutoring) – $120 million
    • Grammarly (grammar and spelling assistance) – $110 million
    • Xueba100.com (homework assistance) – $100 million
    • Coursera (online education) – $64 million
    • AltSchool (private school; learning management system) – $40 million
    • MasterClass (online classes taught by celebrities) – $35 million
    • Trilogy Education (coding bootcamp) – $30 million
    • College Ave (private student loans) – $30 million
    • BYJU’s (test prep) – $30 million
    • MakeBlock (robotics) – $30 million

    The Most Well-Funded Ed-Tech Startups


    These are the ed-tech “startups” that have raised the most venture capital. That is to say, these companies have not IPO’d or been acquired so even if they’re years old, they still sorta count as “startups.” (Clearly not all this funding happened this year):

    • SoFi (private student loans) – $1.88 billion
    • Affirm (private student loans) – $420 million
    • EverFi (“critical skills” training) – $251 million
    • Yuanfudao (tutoring) – $244.2 million
    • HotChalk (online education service provider) – $230 million
    • Coursera (online education service provider) – $210.1 million
    • BYJU’s (test prep) – $204 million
    • Pluralsight (skills training) – $192.5 million
    • Udemy (skills training marketplace) – $173 million
    • AltSchool (private school; learning management system) – $173 million
    • Kaltura (video platform) – $165.1 million
    • D2L (learning management system) – $165 million
    • Udacity (skills training) – $160 million
    • Knewton (algorithmic textbooks) – $157.25 million

    The Most Active Investors of 2017


    Most of the investors who’ve participated in the 95 deals so far this year have only participated in one ed-tech deal. There are just 9 firms that have made three or more investments in 2017:

    • Reach Capital (2017 investments: AdmitHub, Holberton School, Nearpod, Epic!, BookNook, Mystery Science, Mrs. Wordsmith, Abl)
    • GSV (Voxy, Raise.me, MasterClass, CreativeLive, Nearpod, Coursera, Motimatic)
    • University Ventures (investments: AdmitHub, OOHLALA, Motimatic, Examity, CollegeVine (formerly Admissions Hero), and Paragon One)
    • Y Combinator (investments: OOHLALA, Paragon One, KidPass, Outschool, Mystery Science)
    • Learn Capital (investments: Paragon One, Outschool, Mystery Science, Coursera)
    • First Round (investments: Wonderschool, CareDox, Abl)
    • FundersClub (investments: AdmitHub, Outschool, Wonderschool)
    • Owl Ventures (investments: Lingo Live, Raise.me,Abl)
    • Rethink Education (investments: Voxy, Abl, Trilogy Education)

    Do note the overlap in their investments – the “herd mentality” of venture capitalists.

    Ed-Tech Exits


    There are only a couple of outcomes once a company has raised venture capital. I mean, it has to pay its investors back, of course. So either it gets acquired, merges with another company, goes public, or goes away.

    There have been 40 acquisitions so far this year. This is down from 68 this time last year and down from 64 this time in 2015. Acquisitions, that is to say, are down significantly.

    Companies that were actively acquiring startups in previous years – Blackboard, Pearson, and PowerSchool for example – have not bought any startups this year. (Frontline Education, which bought five startups last year, has acquired just one so far in 2017.)

    Only one education company has gone public this year: Laureate Education, which raised $490 million with its initial public offering.

    So What?


    Stating that the amount of ed-tech investment is up so far this year doesn’t really tell us much about what the ed-tech industry really looks like.

    No doubt, we should ask why it’s up – why are investors re-enthused about education companies (particularly when successful exits seem to be slumping)? What role do federal and state education politics play in ed-tech investment? (Private student loans. Coding bootcamps. Betsy DeVos. Donald Trump. For-profit universities. Voucher programs. Online charter schools. And so on…)

    Find an error in my calculations? Feel free to file an issue on – or better yet, contribute to – the GitHub repository that powers this analysis.


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  • 07/07/17--03:15: Hack Education Weekly News
  • (National) Education Politics


    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Silence From the Secretary, Despite Major Rules Changes.”

    Lots, lots more about Betsy DeVos’ policies in the student loan and for-profit higher ed sections below.

    Via Politico: “The American Action Forum, a right-leaning public policy group, is recommending that DeVos consider gutting the federal student aid pilot programs created under the Higher Education Act. A new policy paper from the group published on Thursday says that ‘experimental sites’ – which waive some federal requirements for colleges that want to test out different ways of delivering federal financial aid– have not proved effective.” Some of these experimental sites included MOOCs and coding bootcamps.

    (State and Local) Education Politics


    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Illinois House of Representatives voted Thursday to override a gubernatorial veto of a package of budget bills, ending a 736-day standoff that had left the state’s higher education institutions slashing expenses and scrambling to compensate for uncertain funding streams.”

    Via The Baltimore Sun: “Maryland becomes first state to outlaw scholarship displacement by public colleges.” Scholarship displacement is a practice of lowering financial aid when a student has a scholarship that boosts her aid over the cost of college.

    Via Chalkbeat: New York“Mayor de Blasio strikes a charter deal, making it easier for schools to expand, pay for space.”

    More on states’ legal actions against Betsy DeVos for her reversal of Obama-era regulations on for-profit universities in the for-profit higher ed section below.

    Immigration and Education


    Via The Verge: “US denies visas to Afghanistan’s all-girl robotics team.” The Gambian team, which was also initially denied entrance to the US, will be granted visas.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Assessing the Travel Ban: What New Data on Overseas Recruitment Does – and Doesn’t – Tell Us.”

    Education in the Courts


    The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow is appealing a lower court’s ruling that it must repay $60 million to the state of Ohio as it cannot document students “attended” its online charter school.

    “A Wave of Disability-Lawsuit Threats Against Colleges May Have Receded,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “In a lawsuit against Baylor University, 10 women who brought complaints of sexual assault against other Baylor students say the university’s strict alcohol policy was used to ‘shame, silence and expel’ a student, and they included emails from a former university regent as proof.”

    For more on lawsuits about for-profit higher ed, see the for-profit higher ed section below.

    The Business of Student Loans


    Via The USA Today: “Millions of student loans could be headed for a shakeup in coming months.”

    More on the legal actions taken by states over Betsy DeVos’ rollback of the borrower defense rule in the for-profit higher ed section below.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


    From the US Department of Education press release: “DeVos Presses Pause on Burdensome Gainful Employment Regulations.” More from The Chronicle of Higher Education and from Inside Higher Ed.

    18 States Are Suing Betsy DeVos Over For-Profit College Rules,” Buzzfeed reports. More on the legal actions over the delay of the borrower defense rule from NPR and from The NYT.

    Via The Washington Post: “SEC settles fraud charges against defunct for-profit college company ITT.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Federal Trade Commission began mailing more than $49 million in refund checks to former DeVry University students Wednesday as part of a settlement between the for-profit institution and the agency. DeVry agreed to the $100 million settlement after the FTC sued the institution for its use of employment statistics in advertising.”

    “College made millions by tricking Indigenous people, court finds,” The Guardian reports. “Unique International College used a misleading and unlawful scheme to target vulnerable communities in 2014 and 2015, pushing individuals to enrol in courses in management, salon management and marketing.”

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


    Via Class Central’s Dhawal Shah, writing in Edsurge: “MOOCs Find Their Audience: Professional Learners and Universities.” (Edsurge, for what it’s worth, shares investors with Class Central, Udacity, and Coursera (although there’s no disclosure on that article to that end) – funny how the narratives about the “revolutionary” potential of MOOCs get spread, eh?)

    Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill follows up on the Edsurge article with his own analysis: “MOOCs Now Focused on Paid Certificates and OPM Market.”

    Tecnológico de Monterrey has joined edX.

    More on the ongoing legal battles between the state of Ohio and the virtual charter school Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow in the courts section above.

    Meanwhile on Campus…


    Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is denying allegations that he helped use his office to help secure a loan for the now defunct Burlington College, which at the time was led by his wife.

    Inside Higher Ed reports that the University of Missouri at Columbia will prevent students from using their ID credit cards to buy “nonacademic items” from campus stores.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “One Activist Has Hundreds of Colleges Under the Gun to Fix Their Websites.” (That is, to fix them because they are inaccessible to those with disabilities.)

    Via Chalkbeat: “Aurora Public Schools, CSU online degree program hammering out details of new partnership.” The partnership includes the former constructing a new building to hold CSU’s Global Campus.

    Claremont Theology might join Willamette University, Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Via Pacific Standard: “In Pakistan, These Schools Are Putting Morality Back Into the Curriculum.”

    More on AltSchool in the surveillance section below. Because honestly, where else would you put news about that private school company but in the surveillance section.

    Accreditation and Certification


    Via The Washington Post: “Chicago won’t allow high school students to graduate without a plan for the future.” That is, “They must show that they’ve secured a job or received a letter of acceptance to college, a trade apprenticeship, a gap year program or the military.” This seems like it’ll be a boon for for-profit higher ed, so good job, Rahm Emanuel.

    More on certifications in the MOOC section above.

    Testing, Testing…


    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Irregularities Lead to AP Scores Being Canceled.” That is, canceled at Scripps Ranch High School in California.

    Predictions about the future of test prep from Campus Technology: “Top 3 Trends Affecting U.S. Test Preparation Market Through 2021.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “From CSAP to PARCC, here’s how Colorado’s standardized tests have changed (and what’s next).”

    Go, School Sports Team!


    “Colleges are spending more on their athletes because they can,” says USA Today.

    From the HR Department


    “Did Amway Create the Gig Economy?” asks The Awl. (“Betteridge’s Law of Headlines” aside, the question’s worth asking for a number of reasons, but worth noting of course because Amway was founded by Betsy DeVos’ father-in-law.)

    Via The New York Times: “Microsoft to Cut Up to 4,000 Sales and Marketing Jobs.”

    The NEA, the largest teachers’ union in the US, held its representative assembly where, according to NEAToday, “Educators Vow to Hold Strong, Defend Public Education.”

    Via The New York Times: “State Dept. Restores Job Offers to Students After Diplomat Outcry.”

    “Why Did a UCLA Instructor With a Popular Free-Speech Course Lose His Job?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    The Business of Job Training and Job Placement


    Via Edsurge: “Swedish Startup Hopes to Replace Resumes With ‘Gamified’ Job Matching System.” The company in question is called Sqore.

    Upgrades and Downgrades


    A series of stories in The New York Times about sexual harassment in the tech industry. “Women in Tech Speak Frankly on Culture of Harassment,” writes Katie Benner. Among those accused of harassment, Chris Sacca (perhaps best known as one of the investors on the TV show Shark Tank) and Dave McClure (the founder of 500 Startups, one of the most active ed-tech investors in recent years). Since The NYT story broke, McClure has stepped down from his firm. More via The NYT: “Harassment in the Tech Industry: Voices Grow on Social Media.”

    Via Bloomberg: “Twenty-five years ago, U.S. tech companies pledged to stop using chemicals that caused miscarriages and birth defects. They failed to ensure that their Asian suppliers did the same.”

    “In the knowledge economy, we need a Netflix of education,” say Karl Mehta and Rob Harles in an op-ed in Techcrunch. (No, we don’t.)

    “Tracking Attributes like Grit and Character – There’s an App for That,” writes Charlie Coglianese, the “Chief Data Wizard” at Schoolrunner in an op-ed in EdWeek’s Market Brief. (No, there’s not.)

    Two very different responses to Google’s “Be Internet Awesome” marketing. One by Donnie Piercey in Edsurge: “Trolls, Catfish, Cyberbullies – Oh My! How to Help Students Stay ‘Internet Kind’.” The other by Benjamin Doxtdator: “Frontier notes on metaphors: the digital as landscape and playground.”

    Inside Higher Ed profiles EAB, which has trademarked “student success management system.”

    Via Techcrunch: “Six months after acquisition, SoFi is shutting down Zenbanx.” SoFi is a student loan provider, trying to become a more mainstream banking and financial services company.

    “Why don’t teachers use Minecraft?” asks Dean Groom.

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


    “PBS Show Will Teach Preschoolers How To Think Like Computers,” says Edsurge, which seems like a bad idea since computers don’t “think” and since humans need more empathy these days and less bullshit technofuturist ideology.

    Robotics and AI tech can revolutionize classroom ed,” says Education Dive.

    “Need jobs? Get robots, and education right,” says Techcrunch.

    Via Wired: “AI Is Making It Extremely Easy for Students to Cheat.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


    I probably won’t include this in my calculations of ed-tech investments, but I’m noting it here nonetheless because it dovetails so nicely with “mindfulness” and “social emotional learning” hoopla. Headspace, has raised $36.7 million in Series B funding. The meditation app (which does market itself to schools) has raised $75 million total.

    Side has raised $5.7 million in Series A funding from Xavier Niel, Anglae Ventures, Antoine Martin, Connect Ventures, Fly Ventures, Jacques-Antoine Granjon, and TheFamily. The short-term job placement startup has raised $7.15 million total.

    Education publisher Nelson has acquired digital grade book company Edusight.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


    The BBC on AltSchool: “The futuristic school where you’re always on camera.”

    Not directly related to education, but certainly relevant to those who care about what Google does with data – via Techcrunch: “UK data regulator says DeepMind’s initial deal with the NHS broke privacy law.”

    Data and “Research”


    Inside Higher Ed covers controversy surrounding an article about net neutrality in the International Journal of Communication that did not disclose funding from an industry group, CALinnovates.

    Via Chalkbeat: “How much money does Aurora Public Schools spend and on what? New online tool has answers.”

    Education Week’s Sarah Sparks writes about research on how data changes the way schools make decisions (and not necessarily for the better).

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Colleges That Received the Highest Amounts in Pell Grants and Federal Student Loans for Undergraduates, by Sector, 2014–15.”

    Via MIT Technology Review: “The most popular people on Twitter are disproportionately white males, according to the first study of race and gender inequality in the Twitterverse.”

    According to anthropologist Lauren Herckis, professors hesitate to adopt “innovative teaching methods” because they fear looking stupid in front of students.

    UVA’s Dan Willingham“On fidget spinners& speeded math practice.”

    Via The Telegraph: “Smartphones blamed for dramatic rise in head lice as schoolchildren gather together to view screens.”

    Icon credits: The Noun Project


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    Beth Holland, a doctoral student at JHU and “EdTech Researcher” at Education Week, sent an email asking some questions about the history of ed-tech. The gist of these: how did ed-tech get from the early, inquiry-based pioneers like Seymour Papert to the crap we see today. Once my response hit more than 500 words, I thought I’d better “blog” my thoughts rather than just answer via email…

    There’s a popular origin story about education technology: that, it was first developed and adopted by progressive educators, those interested in “learning by doing” and committed to schools as democratic institutions. Then, something changed in the 1980s (or so): computers became commonplace, and ed-tech became commodified – built and sold by corporations, not by professors or by universities. Thus the responsibility for acquiring classroom technology and for determining how it would be used shifted from a handful of innovative educators (often buying hardware and software with their own money) to school administration; once computers were networked, the responsibility shifted to IT. The purpose of ed-tech shifted as well – from creative computing to keyboarding, from projects to “productivity.” (And I’ll admit. I’m guilty of having repeated some form of this narrative myself.)

    But what if, to borrow from Ian Bogost, “progressive education technology” – the work of Seymour Papert, for example – was a historical aberration, an accident between broadcast models, not an ideal that was won then lost?

    There’s always a danger in nostalgia, when one invents a romanticized past – in this case, a once-upon-a-time when education technology was oriented towards justice and inquiry before it was re-oriented towards test scores and flash cards. But rather than think about “what went wrong,” it might be useful to think about what was wrong all along.

    Although Papert was no doubt a pioneer, he wasn’t the first person to recognize the potential for computers in education. And he was hardly alone in the 1960s and 1970s in theorizing or developing educational technologies. There was Patrick Suppes at Stanford, for example, who developed math instruction software for IBM mainframes and who popularized what became known as “computer-assisted instruction.” (Arguably, Papert refers to Suppes’ work in Mindstorms when he refers to “the computer being used to program the child” rather than his own vision of the child programming the computer.)

    Indeed, as I’ve argued repeatedly, the history of ed-tech dates at least as far back as the turn of the twentieth century and the foundation of the field of educational psychology. Much of we see in ed-tech today reflects those origins – the work of psychologist Sidney Pressey, the work of psychologist B. F. Skinner, the work of psychologist Edward Thorndike. It reflects those origins because, as historian Ellen Condliffe Lagemann has astutely observed, “One cannot understand the history of education in the United States during the twentieth century unless one realizes that Edward L. Thorndike won and John Dewey lost.”

    Ed-tech has always been more Thorndike than Dewey because education has been more Thorndike than Dewey. That means more instructivism than constructionism. That means more multiple choice tests than projects. That means more surveillance than justice.

    (How Thorndike's ed-tech is now being rebranded as “personalization” (and by extension, as progressive education) – now that's an interesting story...


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  • 07/14/17--04:30: Hack Education Weekly News
  • (National) Education Politics


    After rolling back for-profit higher ed regulationslast week, Betsy DeVos turns her attention to dismantling civil rights as she holds a series of Title IXlistening sessions.”

    More on the Department of Education’s for-profit university machinations in the for-profit section below.

    Via Broadly: “Betsy DeVos to Meet with Men’s Rights Groups, Reports Say.”

    Via The New York Times: “Campus Rape Policies Get a New Look as the Accused Get DeVos’s Ear.” Here’s a choice quotation from the head of the Department of Education’s Civil Rights Office, Candace Jackson:

    Jackson later apologized.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “After Meeting With DeVos, Title IX Activists Say They Still Have Many Questions.”

    Via Buzzfeed: “Betsy DeVos Wants To ‘Quickly’ Change The Way The Government Treats Campus Sexual Assault.”

    Via The New York Times: “DeVos Says She Will Revisit Obama-Era Sexual Assault Policies.”

    Who Does DeVos’s Department Really Represent?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via The New York Times: “DeVos’s Hard Line on New Education Law Surprises States.”

    Via The Washington Post: “A brief history of DARE, the anti-drug program Jeff Sessions wants to revive.”

    Via ProPublica: “Trump Has Secretive Teams to Roll Back Regulations, Led by Hires With Deep Industry Ties.”

    Via Military Times: “Lawmakers reach initial deal to expand GI education bill.” The proposed bill would eliminate the 15-year time limit on accessing education benefits.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Bipartisan support builds for expanding Pell Grant eligibility to short-term certificates, although some experts worry about quality control and funding.” I guess you won’t be able to use Pell Grants at Dev Bootcamp tho (more on that below).

    On the US House of Representatives’ proposed budget: “$2 Billion for Teacher Training, Salaries Eliminated in House Budget Plan,” Education Week reports. Inside Higher Ed describes the budget plan as “(Largely) Shunning White House on Higher Ed Spending.”

    (State and Local) Education Politics


    Via Chalkbeat: “Report: Special education voucher program leaves some of New York City’s poorest families without services.”

    Via The Denver Post: “Outdated, sagging Colorado schools get $300 million boost from pot sales, other taxes.”

    Via NPR: “Reading, Writing And Fracking? What The Oil Industry Teaches Oklahoma Students.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “John Behling, the new president of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents, said Friday that he wants institutions to recruit leaders from the private sector and otherwise ‘streamline’ the process for hiring chancellors and other top administrators. In so doing, he might have shed light on why a state budget proposal includes language – opposed by faculty members – that would ban the regents from ever considering only academics as top administrators.”

    Via Education Week: “Detroit District May Rethink Authorizing Charter Schools.”

    Immigration and Education


    Via Inside Higher Ed: “DHS Head Won’t Commit to Defending DACA.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Trump Administration Considers Measure to Make Staying in U.S. Harder for Foreign Students.”

    Via The Atlantic: “The Schools Transforming Immigrant Education.”

    Via The New York Times: “In Blow to Tech Industry, Trump Shelves Start-Up Immigrant Rule.”

    More on the Afghan robotics team in the contest section below.

    Education in the Courts


    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Federal Judge Dismisses Suit Against Texas Campus-Carry Law.”

    Via The Washington Post: “Columbia University settles Title IX lawsuit with former student involving ‘mattress girl’ case.”

    Via the AP: “The Ohio Supreme Court won’t stop the state from starting Thursday to recoup $60 million from one of the nation’s largest online charter schools amid a legal battle.”

    More legal cases in the testing section below.

    Testing, Testing…


    Via The New York Times: “California Supreme Court Moves to Make Bar Exam Easier to Pass.”

    Via The New York Times: “How Universal College Admission Tests Help Low-Income Students.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “When states pay for the SAT or ACT, more poor students go to college.”

    Financial Aid and the Business of Student Loans


    The Department of Education explains“how marriage impacts your student loans.”

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “Number of Students Applying for Federal Aid Rises 6%, After Several Years of Decline.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


    Kaplan is closing Dev Bootcamp, a coding bootcamp it acquired in 2014. More from Inside Higher Ed, from Edsurge (disclosure alert!), and from Hacker News.

    Also via Edsurge: “How Boundaries Between Colleges and Companies Will Continue to Blur.”

    Also via Edsurge: “What a Reinvented College Looks Like: 4 Alternative Higher-Ed Models.” The models: Minerva, MissionU, “New Research University,” and “New Urban College.” No disclosure, no surprise, that Edsurge shares investors with at least one of these.

    The Chronicle of Higher Education asks if, with the rollback to Obama-era regulations, states can do more to hold for-profit colleges accountable.

    Via US News & World Report: “Trump Administration Begins Rewriting For-Profit Regulations.”

    Via NPR: “Back To The Starting Line On Regulating For-Profit Colleges.”

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


    “The University of California, Los Angeles, is planning a major expansion in the online certificate and graduate degree markets that it hopes will reach as many as 15,000 students by early next decade,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Via Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill: “Enrollment Implications Regarding Directive for Online Community College in California.”

    Via Education Dive: “Coursera’s Tom Willerer talks personalization, access.” Willerer was previously at Netflix (just to give you an idea of the meaning of “personalization” in the headline).

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “How a BYU Campus Is Reshaping Online Education – and the Mormon Faith.”

    Online courses will eventually replace traditional education,” The Daily Californian predicts. Sigh.

    Speaking of predictions about the future of online education, EdTech Strategies’ Doug Levin pens part 2 of his look at Clayton Christensen and Michael Horn’s prediction that “by 2019, half of all high school classes will be taught over the Internet.”

    More on court cases involve online charter schools in the legal section above.

    Meanwhile on Campus…


    Tampa Bay Times’ Cara Fitzpatrick revisits the schools she covered as part of her Pulitzer winning series on “failure factories”: “The Fight for Fairmount Park.”

    Via Pacific Standard: “The Dangers Lurking in California School Drinking Fountains.” Spoiler alert: it’s not just lead.

    Emily Kim, formerly a lawyer for charter chain Success Academy, is launching her own charter chain. It’ll be focused on integration, she promises.

    Via The New York Times: “Long After Protests, Students Shun the University of Missouri.”

    University of Michigan adds an automated text-analysis tool to a growing program intended to give more students a chance to learn through writing,” Inside Higher Ed reports. IHE blogger John Warner responds: “Algorithmic Assessment vs. Critical Reflection.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Despite Forged Signature, Bethune-Cookman U. Proceeds With $306-Million Dorm Contract.”

    NPR examines recovery schools– that is, schools geared towards students with addictions.

    Accreditation and Certification


    Congratulations to Malala Yousafzai who has finished high school.

    Via Chalkbeat: “Some New York charter schools could soon be allowed to certify their own teachers. What could that look like?”

    WBUR reports that“This New MIT Master’s Program Doesn’t Require A College Or High School Degree.”

    Go, School Sports Team!


    Via SB Nation: “What football will look like in the future.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Cornell University has announced that it is ending its contract with Nike, saying the athletic apparel company was unwilling to sign a ‘standard’ agreement pledging to follow a code of conduct for its workers, a code developed and endorsed by many colleges and universities.”

    From the HR Department


    “Mind-reading robo tutor in the sky” company Knewton has a new CEO, Brian Kibby, formerly with Pearson.

    The Business of Job Training


    Jobsolescence” is not a word but it’s used in this headline nonetheless.

    Larry Cuban on “Coding: The New Vocationalism” (Part 1 and Part 2)

    Contests and Awards


    Via the AP: “Denied Visas Twice, Afghan Girls Will Come to U.S. for Robotics Contest.”

    Google profiles Niji Collins, a winner in the latest Google Code-In contest.

    Upgrades and Downgrades


    Edsurge profiles “personalized learning” software used in a virtual school that has some 450 incarcerated students. The software in question, Odysseyware, is featured in a recent series of articles in Slate, chronicling the worst online classes, particularly those used for credit recovery programs. No mention of that or of any problems with this sort of ed-tech in the Edsurge piece, no surprise, which was sponsored by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, just to give you an idea of how these organizations see the future of “personalized learning.”

    Africa is a Country profilesBridge International Academies: “No education crisis wasted: On Bridge’s ‘business model’ in Africa.”

    More on Bridge from Business Insider: “Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are backing a controversial education program in East Africa.”

    For the second time in as many weeks, Edsurge wants to know if educators’ job titles should be changed. First it was “professor.”Now it’s the word “teacher” that should be scrapped. Sensing a trend here?

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “OpenStax Launches Learning Platform.”

    Adaptive software is not the same as personalized learning, says eSchool News. Fortunately for pundits and PR, personalized learning can be anything you want it to be.

    Via MIT Technology Review: “Another Price Slash Suggests the Oculus Rift Is Dead in the Water.” But I’m sure VR is still the future of education for many marketers.

    Speaking of the future of education, via Complex: “How Pokemon Go Went From Viral Sensation To Wasteland in Just One Year.”


    Via The New York Times: “To Close Digital Divide, Microsoft to Harness Unused Television Channels.”

    Via Edsurge: “Genius, Crowdsourced Annotation Service, Discontinues Education Offerings.”

    Via Techcrunch: “Kids app maker Toca Boca debuts its first consumer product collection at Target.”

    Axios reports that “Another VC resigns after accusations of ‘misconduct’.” This time, it’s Frank Artale, co-founder of Ignition Partners. (To my knowledge, this firm has not made any ed-tech investments. So yay?)

    But never fear women in tech! “Ashton Kutcher plans to host an open dialogue on gender equality,” Techcrunch reports.

    Edsurge reports that 100Kin10, an organization that promises to train 100,000 STEM educators in the next decade, has received some $28 million in corporate pledges.

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


    The Getting Smart blog predicts that “By 2025, Swarms of Self-Driving Vehicles Will Transport Students to Learning Sites.” And it opts to go full Orwell with this prediction: “You can remind the troublemakers that with facial recognition you can run, but you can’t hide.”

    The Getting Smart blog also highlights a recent PwC report: “AI Boosts Value of Thinking, Creativity and Problem-Solving.”

    Via MIT Technology Review: “U.S. to Fund Advanced Brain-Computer Interfaces.”

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform


    It’s not (necessarily) venture philanthropy, but The Chronicle of Higher Education tracks the “Major Private Gifts to Higher Education.”

    Recode profiles Priscilla Chan, co-founder of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

    Via The New York Times: “Award-Winning Philanthropists Explain the Roots of Their Giving.”

    Charity is no substitute for justice withheld – St. Augustine

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


    It’s not an ed-tech investment, but let’s note it nonetheless. “Betsy DeVos Invested In Military Tech Contractor Run By Son-In-Law, While Brother Shaped Afghan War Policy,” International Business Times reports. DeVos’ brother is Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater. DeVos’ investment is in LexTM3, which she’s funded three times since Trump became POTUS.

    Tutoring company Clark has raised $2.2 million in seed funding from Lightspeed Ventures, Rethink Education, Flatworld Partners, and Winkelvoss Capital.

    Vidcode has raised $1.5 million in seed funding from BrainPOP, Cherry Ventures, CoVenture, Rethink Education, Stephano Kim, and ZhenFund. The learn-to-code company has raised $1.62 million total.

    NetDragon has acquiredJumpStart, currently the developer of a game inspired by the ed-tech classic Math Blaster.

    BYJU’s has acquired tutoring company Edurite from Pearson.

    Pearson sells off a 22% stake in Penguin Random House to majority owner Bertelsmann.

    Industry analysis: Bloomberg looks atSilicon Valley’s Overstuffed Startups,” noting that IPOs and acquisitions have stalled. But Techcrunch reports that “US venture investment ticks up in Q2 2017,” so who knows.

    CB Insights lists“15 Early-Stage Ed Tech Companies To Watch.”

    Data and “Research”


    The RAND Corporation is out with a study on personalized learning– “Modest Gains, Big Challenges,” reads the Education Week headline. Doug Levin looks at this recent Gates Foundation-sponsored research and asks“Why Do Students in Personalized Learning Programs Feel Less Positive About School?”

    The Wall Street Journal looks atPaying Professors: Inside Google’s Academic Influence Campaign.” Google responds. (And there’s been quite a bit of pushback on the research and the reporting.)

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Federal obligations to universities for science and engineering declined by 2 percent in the 2015 fiscal year, new federal data show.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “Do school vouchers‘work’? As the debate heats up, here’s what research really says.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Students are more likely to graduate from colleges that are more expensive and have larger budgets, a new study out of Oregon State University shows.”

    Oh look. This story about laptops. Again.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A new study from the Urban Institute found limited interest among prospective college students about graduates’ labor market outcomes, despite the data’s appeal to policy makers and researchers.”

    Press releases as predictions. Via The Telegraph (and based on “market research”): “E-books sales to drop as bookshelf resurgence sparks ‘shelfie’ craze.”

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Online PD Pays Dividends for Teachers’ Tech Learning, Survey Suggests.” The survey was from Project Tomorrow.

    The Atlantic looks at research on “The Diminishing Role of Art in Children’s Lives.”

    Via Education Week’s Inside School Research blog: “Reading ‘on Grade Level’ May Depend on Your School’s Test, Study Finds.”

    Pew Research Center has released the results of its latest survey on how Americans view institutions. One of the big headline grabbers: the sharp decline in Republicans’ favorable view of higher education. 58% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents “now say that colleges and universities have a negative effect on the country.” More thoughts on the survey from Alex Reid, from the ANOVA, from Bryan Alexander, from The Chronicle of Higher Education, and from Inside Higher Ed.

    Pew Research Center releases its most recent report on online harassment– “Roughly four-in-ten Americans have personally experienced online harassment, and 62% consider it a major problem.”

    Via Buzzfeed: “Many Women Of Color Feel Unsafe Working In Science, New Study Finds.”

    Via The Atlantic: “Most Scientific Research Data From the 1990s Is Lost Forever.” Oops.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project


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    In early June, I gave a keynote at the OEB MidSummit on the history of "personalization.“ I only had 20 minutes, so it’s a partial history at best. But as ”personalized learning" has become one of the most prominent buzzwords in education technology, I think it’s worth investigating its origins and its trajectory at length.

    ”Personalized learning" is often tied to the progressive educators of the early twentieth century – to John Dewey and Maria Montessori, for example – even though much of the educational software that’s marketed by Silicon Valley and education reformers as “personalized learning” has very little to do with progressive educational theory, except perhaps at the most superficial level. Sure, there’s an invocation of “choice” and “moving-at-your-own-pace,” but the progenitor for much of today’s “personalized learning” seems to be ad-tech rather than ed-tech.

    As part of my Spencer Fellowship, I’m investigating the networks of investors and entrepreneurs who are shaping education technology policies and products, and I’ve decided to focus on how “personalized learning” has come to dominate the narratives surrounding technology-based education reform.

    There are two obvious sources of funding and PR for “personalized learning” – the Gates Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. The former has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on “personalized learning” products and projects; the latter promises it will spend billions.

    The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative does not list on its website where its money goes. (It’s a for-profit company, not a charitable foundation so it does not fall under the same reporting requirements as the Gates Foundation does.) As such, it’s going to take me some work to piece together exactly what CZI is funding. (Organizations we know have received CZI money: Chiefs for Change, the College Board, Edsurge (to promote personalized learning projects), and tutoring company BYJU’s, for starters.)

    The Gates Foundation’s investments in “personalized learning” are much easier to track. And to that end I have a couple of projects of my own to unveil:

    The amount of money that the Gates Foundation has awarded in education grants is simply staggering: some $15 billion across some 3000+ grants since the organization was founded in 1998.

    The Gates Foundation first started funding grants “to support personalized learning environments where all students achieve” in 2000, and it has backed the development, adoption, and marketing of “personalized learning” every year since then. (It’s not clear when a school gets a grant for “personalized learning” what software it purchases – is that software also funded by the Gates Foundation? I am assuming here that “personalized learning” necessarily means buying software.)

    With billions of dollars spent on shaping policies and narratives, the Gates Foundation remains one of the most influential (and anti-democratic) forces in education. As such, it gets to define what “personalized learning” is – what it looks like.

    (Still want to insist that “personalized learning” is progressive? Never forget: Bill Gates once called constructionism, progressive educator Seymour Papert’s theory of learning, “bullshit.” Or at least, I’ll never forget…)


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  • 07/21/17--05:00: Hack Education Weekly News
  • (National) Education Politics


    US Secretary of Education spoke to ALEC this week. The American Legislative Exchange Council is a right-wing organization that pens model legislation, including the “Stand Your Ground” gun laws, anti-union legislation, and laws that expand virtual schools. (Here’s a list of education organizations that are members or sponsors.) Betsy DeVos has previously invested in K–12 Inc, a prominent ALEC member. Education Week reminds us“Why Betsy DeVos and ALEC Are Natural Allies on School Choice.”

    The Department of Educationreleased DeVos’s remarks to ALEC, which include an invocation of Margaret Thatcher’s famous quotation “There is no such thing as society.”

    Via The Washington Post: “DeVos tells conservative lawmakers what they like to hear: More local control, school choice.” Protestors were outside the meeting in force.

    “Local control,” sure. But as Education Week reports, “States Bristle as DeVos Ed. Dept. Critiques Their ESSA Plans.”

    Elsewhere in irony, WaPo’s Valerie Strauss writes about“The deep irony in Betsy DeVos’s first speech on special education.”

    President Trump Made a Promise to Black Colleges. It Hasn’t Happened,” writes The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Adam Harris.

    Via Politico: “DeVos: Civil rights office will return to being a ‘neutral’ agency.” I do not know what it means to be “neutral” on civil rights unless you just replace “neutral” with “whiteness.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “More than 50 groups have signed a letter demanding that Candice E. Jackson, acting assistant secretary for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education, reject a statement she made this month in a New York Times interview. Ms. Jackson told the newspaper that ‘90 percent’ of campus sexual-assault accusations resulted from an accuser’s regret over a sexual encounter.” Also from CHE: “Key Democrat Calls for DeVos to Remove Top Civil-Rights Official.”

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “White House Touts FCC Chair’s Plan to Scale Back Net Neutrality.”

    Inside Higher Ed reports that “The Republican budget resolution envisions more than $236 billion in cuts to mandatory spending for education programs over 10 years.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The House veterans affairs committee on Wednesday unanimously approved an update to the Post–9/11 GI Bill, an ambitious package of legislation that would lift the lifetime time limit on use of benefits and restore aid for veterans affected by closures of for-profit colleges, among other provisions.”

    The Kenyan Ministry of Education says that the Bridge International Academies are not complying with the country’s laws, and the company, which runs chains of schools across the developing world, has not received approval for its curriculum.

    Africa is a Country continues its coverage of Bridge, “Why is Liberia’s Government rushing to sell its public schools to U.S. for-profits?”

    Of course none of this – not Africa is a Country’s excellent reporting nor Peg Tyre’s recent story in the NYT– stops Nicholas Kristof from touting Bridge as a “solution.”

    (State and Local) Education Politics


    Via Education Week: “Minecraft Party to Raise Money for Technology in Philly Schools.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “New York City continues to lose track of thousands of school computers, audit finds.”

    Immigration and Education


    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Twelve higher education associations this week registered ‘serious concern’ about a proposal under consideration at the Department of Homeland Security that would require international students to reapply annually for permission to stay in the U.S.”

    Education in the Courts


    Via NBC: “Arizona: Lawsuit Alleging Discrimination In Mexican American Studies Ban Back in Court.”

    The curriculum company Great Minds is appealing a lawsuit in which it claimed that FedEx had violated the “open” in its open educational resources by making copies.

    Via The Washington Post: “Iran sentences Princeton graduate student to 10 years for espionage, report says.”

    Testing, Testing…


    Via Education Week: “Thousands of English-Learners Fall Short on Test of Language Skills.” The test in question in ACCESS 2.0, which recently changed how it was scored.

    More colleges are going “test optional” for applicants: Dominican College, High Point University, the University of Evansville, and Hanover College.

    The Business of Student Loans


    Via The New York Times: “As Paperwork Goes Missing, Private Student Loan Debts May Be Wiped Away.”

    Via NPR: “Private Student Loans: The Rise And Fall (And Rise Again?)” (Sallie Mae says that student borrowing is rising.)

    Via NPR: “Teachers With Student Debt: The Struggle, The Causes And What Comes Next.”

    There’s more research on student debt in the research section below.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


    Via Edsurge: “Dev Bootcamp Community Reacts to Closure Decision.” (Disclosure alert.)

    Via The San Francisco Chronicle: “Dev Bootcamp couldn’t tough out industry shakeout.”

    The Iron Yard announced this week that it will also be closing. This coding bootcamp was acquired by the University of Phoenix’s parent company, Apollo Education Group, in 2015.

    “Troubled Colleges Rebrand Under Faux-Latin Names,” Buzzfeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy reports. The for-profit Everest College is now “Altierus,” and DeVry is “Adtalem.”

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


    The LA Times asks, “ In this digital self-help age, just how effective are MasterClass’s A-list celebrity workshops?”

    Campus Technology rewrites the press release that Examity will be used for identify verification and proctoring in edX classes.

    Coursera has a new partner, the insurance company AXA, which will offer some 300 Coursera classes to its employees.

    “What if the US had an OU?” the Open University’s Martin Weller asks.

    Meanwhile on Campus…


    This LA Times story is something else: “An overdose, a young companion, drug-fueled parties: The secret life of USC med school dean.”

    Anya Kamenetz interviewsPurdue’s president Mitch Daniels about the future of higher ed.

    Campus Reform continues to make accusations against professors and stir up hate mobs against them. From The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A Case of Mistaken Identity Spurs Hateful Messages for a Sikh Professor.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “U. of Central Florida Student Says He Was Suspended for Viral Tweet of Ex’s Apology.”

    “My high school told me to apply to 100 colleges– and I almost lost myself in the process,” writes Anisah Karim. This is a good example of why we should be more critical when we hear about schools that boast everyone was admitted to college – at what cost?

    “Students who can’t afford uniforms in New Orleans all-charter-system are routinely barred from attending school. And their parents can end up in jail,” AlterNet reports.

    Via NPR: “When Black Hair Violates The Dress Code.”

    “My Black Stepson Is Proof That Our Schools Put White Culture First” by Andre Perry. Important thoughts here on social emotional learning and structural racism.

    Via The Washington Post: “Some D.C. high schools are reporting only a fraction of suspensions.”

    Via Education Week: “For Principals, Student Sexting a Speeding ‘Freight Train,’ Full of Peril.”

    Accreditation and Certification


    Credly Receives Open Badges Certification,” Campus Technology reports.

    Go, School Sports Team!


    Hugh Freeze resigns as Ole Miss’ football coach,” The Clarion-Ledger reports. The move comes after it was revealed he made a call to an escort service.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Former National Football League player and current Fox NFL analyst Chris Spielman has filed a federal lawsuit against his alma mater, Ohio State University, claiming his image and those of other athletes were used without permission.”

    Via Deadspin: “Teens Discover The Boston Garden Has Ignored Law For Decades, May Owe State Millions.”

    From the HR Department


    Rebecca Schuman is back with her annual “Rate My JIL,” where she skewers the higher ed job market. She takes on a job posting at the University of Illinois Chicago that pays just $28K, for starters. IHE writes about the “outcry,” and “Dean Dad” Matt Reed responds with his own “speculative postmortem.”

    Former Under Secretary of Education and former NewSchools Venture Fund CEO Ted Mitchell is the new head of the lobbying group American Council on Education (ACE).

    Via Patheos: “BYU-Idaho Professor Fired After Defending LGBT Rights in Private Facebook Post.”

    Personalized learningequals cutting the teacher workforce in Oklahoma.

    Via NPR: “Number Of Teens Working Summer Jobs Declines.”

    The Business of Job Training


    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Ads Spell Out What Career and Technical Education Really Is – and Who It’s For.”

    Stanford University’s Larry Cuban publishes part 3 of his series “Coding: The New Vocationalism.”

    Edsurge investigates the validity of a claim it published that “people will change careers 15 times over their lifetimes.” Perhaps fact-check these sorts of things before publishing them?

    Via the Google blog: “Google introduces Hire, a new recruiting app that integrates with G Suite.”

    Google boasts about teaching skills” using VR.

    Sound the “factory model of education klaxon”! Edsurge on“Bridging the School-to-Business Gap: What Public Schools Can Learn From Industry.”

    Contests and Competitions


    Via NPR: “Students Compete In First-Ever International High School Robotics Competition.”

    The New York Times reports that “Burundi Robotics Team Vanishes After U.S. Competition.” Authorities do not believe foul play is involved – two of the students were seen crossing into Canada.

    Via Techcrunch: “Literacy XPRIZE starts field tests of semifinalist apps in LA, Philadelphia and Dallas.”

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


    Will Virtual Reality Drive Deeper Learning?” asks Edutopia.

    Is gender inequality in technology a good thing?” asks Donald Clark, using “neurodiversity” as an excuse to justify the ongoing exclusion of women from the field.

    Can predictive analytics help higher ed save $1M a year?” asks Education Dive.

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

    Upgrades and Downgrades


    Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla insists that “Venture capital has less sexual harassment than other industries.” (Khosla’s education portfolio includes Kiddom, Affirm, Bridge International Academies, littleBit, and Piazza. His wife is the co-founder of OER organization CK–12.)

    Via Wired’s Nitasha Tiku: “VC Firms Promise to Stamp Out Sexual Harassment. Sounds Familiar.” That is, it sounds a lot like the industry’s promises to address diversity.

    The Teaching Channel, a video-based professional development organization heavily backed by the Gates Foundation, is becoming a for-profit company.

    Via KQED’s Mindshift: “MIT’s Scratch Program Is Evolving For Greater, More Mobile Creativity.”

    Via Edsurge: “Amazon Inspire Goes Live (But Without Controversial Share Feature).”

    The Verge profiles the SocialStar Creator Camp, a summer camp for teens wanting to become viral Internet stars.

    “Together, technology and teachers can revamp schools,” says The Economist, touting Skinner’s work – it’s like the author read my work but didn’t really read my work.

    Via Education Week: “Personalized Learning: ‘A Cautionary Tale’.”

    eCampus News offers“9 online learning predictions for the upcoming term.” The list includes cloud computing, ffs.

    It’s 2017, and ed-tech is so “disruptive” that we’re still debating the LMS, a technology that is at least 30 years old (and that’s just if you date it to the founding of Blackboard. It’s about 50 years old if you recognize some of PLATO’s functionality is LMS-like.) From WCET: “In Defense of the LMS.” Via Bryan Alexander: “Moodle and the next LMS: reflections and more questions.” Brian Lamb and Jim Groom offers some challenges to the next generation digital learning environment (NGDLE) – because if all else fails, go with a new acronym. More on the LMS in the research section below.

    Speaking of a very strange sense of history: most of these items touted by Edsurge as “90s ed-tech” were not invented in the 1990s.

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


    Let Robots Teach American Schoolkids,” says George Mason University economics professor Tyler Cowen. Hell, why not let robots teach economics at George Mason University?!

    Via Edsurge: “At Louisville Summer Camps, Robots Meet Literacy to Support Vulnerable Students.” (Disclosure alert.)

    More on robots in the contest section above.

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform


    Who’s received Gates Foundation grant money since 1998? I’ve published descriptions of the 3000+ grants here.

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


    University World News reports that the private equity firm has invested $275 million to build a platform for African universities – Honoris United Universities.

    Kahoot has raised $10 million in Series A funding from Creandum, Northzone, and Microsoft Ventures. The gaming company has raised $26.5 million total. Edsurge reports it’s also joined the Disney Accelerator program.

    Ironhack has raised $3 million in Series A funding form JME Venture Capital. It’s another coding bootcamp. Good luck, guys.

    Career development company Learnerbly has raised $2.09 million in seed funding from Frontline Ventures, Claire Davenport, Future Planet Capital, Jason Stockwood, London Co-Investment Fund, Playfair Capital, Renaud Visage, R Ventures, and Stephan Thomas.

    PeopleGrove has raised $1.8 million in seed funding from Reach Capital, Bisk Ventures, Collaborative Fund, FLOODGATE, GSV Acceleration, Karl Ulrich, LaunchCapital, RiverPark Ventures, and University Ventures. The mentorship platform has raised $2.53 million total.

    KickUp has raised $730,000 in seed funding from Red House Education. The professional development company has raised $2.27 million total.

    Escape Technology has raised an undisclosed amount of money from Alpine Investors.

    Advertising company AcademixDirect has acquired“career exploration app” PathSource.

    Silverback Learning has acquired testing company EdifyAssess.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


    Schools collect more data, but how is it used?” asks The Hechinger Report’s Nichole Dobo.

    From the Ed-Fi Alliance’s blog: “The Ed-Fi Alliance Releases Evolutionary Data Standard v2.1.”

    Via Campus Technology: “Average Cost Per Record of US Data Breach in Ed: $245.”

    Via Education Week: “University, middle school partner on cybersecurity education.”

    Data and “Research”


    According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of colleges and universities eligible to award financial aid has fallen precipitously in the last year. “The Culling of Higher Ed Begins,” says Inside Higher Ed. “Numerous schools shut down programs due to the threat of the Obama administration’s ‘gainful employment’ rules, which yank financial aid eligibility from for-profit college programs where students take on too much debt and earn little in return,” Buzzfeed points out.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A new report from Third Way, a centrist think tank, attempts to measure higher education’s performance across sectors and types of institutions. The group used federal data on completion, students’ earnings six years after enrollment and loan repayment rates. The report features aggregate figures for four-year institutions, community colleges and certificate-granting institutions, with breakouts by sector.”

    “Research for Action has released the results of a two-year examination of three states’ performance-based funding formulas for public colleges,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Via Edsurge: “How Much Do Educators Care About Edtech Efficacy? Less Than You Might Think.”

    Via Edsurge: “‘Precision Education’ Hopes to Apply Big Data to Lift Diverse Student Groups.” (This headline pairs nicely with the one above and one below, don’t you think?)

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Adaptive Learning Products Gain Ground in K–12, Market Survey Finds.”

    Code.org boasts that “Girls set AP Computer Science record…skyrocketing growth outpaces boys.” The industry-backed group is taking credit for the increase in the number of AP CS test-takers. There’s a nifty infographic, which Melinda Gates shared on Twitter. (No disclosurein the Edsurge coverage that the College Board, Code.org, and Edsurge itself are all backed by Gates Foundation money.) Like Tim Stahmer, I have some questions about that graph. I mean, the number of AP exams in CS recently doubled too. Is it that surprising that, in turn, the number of exams taken grew as well? How well are these students doing in the AP courses (and not just on the exam)? And “why are underrepresented minorities and poor over-represented in Code.org courses?” Mark Guzdial asks.

    Well, I suppose Senator John McCain’s brain cancer diagnosis was bound to elicit these sorts of stories. From The Atlantic: “Do Cellphones Cause Brain Cancer or Not?”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “An overwhelming majority of colleges and universities did not change priority aid deadlines in response to an earlier financial aid cycle last year, according to a survey of member institutions by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.”

    “A new research paper finds that excess credit hour policies don’t lead to completion, just more student debt,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that rising student debt levels are a substantial contributor to the decline in home ownership among young Americans.”

    Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill provides data on the “Academic LMS Market Share By Enrollments” – part 1 and part 2.

    “Why Americans Think So Poorly of the Country’s Schools” – Jack Schneider on polls and surveys about public education.

    The Chronicle of Higher Education notes that the Campaign for Accountability has had to update its list of scholars who’ve been funded by Google, due to a number of criticisms and flaws in the data. Worth noting: the group is funded by Google’s arch-nemesis, Oracle.

    RIP


    Maryan Mirzakhani, the first woman to with math’s Field Medal, has died from cancer. A professor at Stanford, she was 40. What a loss.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project


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    Within the past week, two well-known and well-established coding bootcamps have announced they’ll be closing their doors: Dev Bootcamp, owned by Kaplan Inc., and The Iron Yard, owned by the Apollo Education Group (parent company of the University of Phoenix). Two closures might not make a trend… yet. But some industry observers have suggested we might see more “consolidation” in the coming months.

    It appears that there are simply more coding bootcamps – almost 100 across the US and Canada– than there are students looking to learn to code. (That is to say, there are more coding bootcamps than there are people looking to pay, on average, $11,000 for 12 weeks of intensive training in a programming language or framework).

    All this runs counter, of course, to the pervasive belief in a “skills gap” – that there aren’t enough qualified programmers to fill all the programming jobs out there, and that as such, folks looking for work should jump at the chance to pay for tuition at a bootcamp. Code.org and other industry groups have suggested that there are currently some 500,000 unfilled computing jobs, for example. But that number is more invention than reality, a statistic used to further a particular narrative about the failure of schools to offer adequate technical training. That 500,000 figure, incidentally, comes from a Bureau of Labor Statistics projection about the number of computing and IT jobs that will added to the US economy by 2024, not the number of jobs that are available – filled or unfilled – today.

    Perhaps instead of “everyone should learn to code,” we should push for everyone to learn how to read the BLS jobs report.

    There isn’t really much evidence of a “skills gap”– there’s been no substantive growth in wages, for example, that one would expect if there was a shortage in the supply of qualified workers. And while we can talk about jobs that will be added to the overall economy in the coming years, it’s important to remember that the job market isn’t national; it’s local. A Haskell programmer in Silicon Valley might earn $250,000 a year, for example; a Haskell programmer in Des Moines probably won’t. Hell, there might not be any Haskell jobs in all of Iowa.

    For its part, Dev Bootcamp had coding bootcamps in Austin, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle. The Iron Yard had coding bootcamps in Atlanta, Austin, Charleston, Dallas, Durham, Greenville, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Nashville, Orlando, Raleigh, Tampa Bay, and Washington DC. (An Iron Yard location in Detroit had already closed its doors.) In all these locations, the bootcamps boasted that they were working with high profile local employers. But the question remains: did local employers really want or need bootcamp grads? Or rather, there are (at least) two questions: were there a sufficient number of tech jobs in these cities to make the bootcamp tuition and time spent worthwhile; and was the training at a bootcamp sufficient to get hired?

    In December of last year, Bloomberg published a warning to prospective students: “Want a Job in Silicon Valley? Keep Away From Coding Schools.” The article contended that many companies have found coding bootcamp grads unprepared for technical work: “These tech bootcamps are a freaking joke,” one tech recruiter told the publication. “My clients are looking for a solid CS degree from a reputable university or relevant work experience.” Google’s director of education echoed this sentiment: “Our experience has found that most graduates from these programs are not quite prepared for software engineering roles at Google without additional training or previous programming roles in the industry.”

    Of course, with all these regional schools, the bootcamps aren’t really training employees for work in the Bay Area (although I think that is part of their marketing – get a certificate, and you can land a job with a famous tech company). And despite the poor reputation bootcamps might have among some tech firms, Course Report, a review site for bootcamps, touts these schools’ successful job placement rates. Course Report claims that among those graduates it surveyed, 73% had found full-time employment using the skills they’d learned, and those had seen an average salary increase of $26,000. No doubt, it’s worth pointing out that there is very little independent research to validate these sorts of claims – much of the research is industry-sponsored, and much of the data, self-reported.

    Also worth noting: that of those surveyed by Course Report, 60% already had bachelor’s degrees. Arguably, this makes the bootcamp certification more of an addition to the college degree than a substitute for one. And this complicates any discussion of credentialing and hiring – does someone land a programming job because she or he has a college degree or because she or he has a coding bootcamp certificate? How might gender and race play into this?

    How might the school itself play into this? I don’t just mean coding bootcamps in general, but specific bootcamp brands. Brands like Dev Bootcamp and The Iron Yard, obviously, have taken a hit to their “legitimacy” by closing (and their students will feel this in turn) – I’m borrowing this term from sociologist Tressie McMillan Cottom– but arguably these schools were also associated with what McMillan Cottom calls “lower ed” in the first place. That is, they’d become subsidiaries of the for-profit colleges Kaplan and the University of Phoenix respectively – coding bootcamps as “the new for-profit higher ed.” Does that association matter to bootcamp students, and just as importantly, does that association matter to employers? Again, there's not much research.

    For-profit higher ed has been in the news a lot in the last couple of years, and the news hasn’t been so good: stories about the high rate of student loan debt, charges of fraudulent marketing, and the closures of chains like Corinthian Colleges and ITT (a technical college, to boot). According to one study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the average student at a for-profit college is actually worse off after attending. That is, these students are less likely to be employed; and if they do have jobs, they are more likely to earn less.

    But of course the “average student” at a for-profit college is not the same as the “average student” at a coding bootcamp. As McMillan Cottom documents in her book Lower Ed, “the typical for-profit college student is a woman and a parent. For-profit colleges dominate in producing black bachelor’s degree holders.” According to the latest survey (again, survey) from Course Report, 55% of bootcamp students are male; 70% are white. 39% paid for their bootcamp tuition themselves; and 17% took out loans. 96% of those enrolled for-profit colleges, by comparison, take out loans.

    Much of the latter is federal loan money. Bootcamps, on the other hand, are not eligible for federal financial aid. The Obama Administration did launch a pilot program – the Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP) initiative– to evaluate the possibility of “non-traditional providers” like bootcamps becoming aid-eligible. But there’s been no word from the Trump Administration if this will be continued or expanded. (Among those bootcamps participating: The Flatiron School in partnership with SUNY Empire State College, MakerSquare in partnership with the University of Texas Austin, HackerRank in partnership with Wilmington University, and Epicodus in partnership with Marylhurst University.) Perhaps bootcamps (and their investors) were hoping that federal financial aid would subsidize their operations like it has done the rest of for-profit higher ed; but that money hasn’t materialized.

    Nevertheless, coding bootcamps – and “learn-to-code” startups more generally– remain one of the most active areas for ed-tech investment. Over $70 million in venture capital has been funneled in coding bootcamps so far in 2017. But unlike in the recent past, there have yet to be any big acquisitions in the industry this year. In 2016, Capella Education, another for-profit college chain, acquired the bootcamps Hackbright Academy and Dev Mountain; and fellow for-profit Strayer Education acquired the New York Code and Design Academy. (Other 2016 bootcamp buys: General Assembly acquired Bitmaker, Bloc acquired DevBridge, and Full Stack Academy acquired Starter League.) There’s been some criticism of those bootcamp founders who sold their companies to for-profits and subsequently “checked out,” allowing the quality of their offerings to suffer. But that’s likely what happens if your company raises venture capital: a bigger company buys you (and crushes you).

    When Dev Bootcamp announced it was closing, the company admitted that it had been “unable to find a sustainable model” that didn't compromise its vision for “high-quality, immersive coding training that is broadly accessible to a diverse population.” Indeed, despite the tech industry’s disdain for the education system and particularly for the politics of its (unionized) labor force, “high-quality, immersive coding training” is going to be an expensive, labor-intensive proposition. For its part, the for-profit higher education industry has not been known to invest heavily in instruction (faculty or curriculum); its dollars – primarily federal financial aid dollars at that – have gone instead to marketing and recruitment.

    So it may just be that the business of teaching everyone to code (and to code well and to do so without federal money) isn’t a very good business at all, particularly at the sort of scale that for-profit higher ed chains – career colleges and coding bootcamps alike – and their investors have sought.


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  • 07/28/17--05:20: Hack Education Weekly News
  • (National) Education Politics


    “Who Is Betsy DeVos?” asks New York Magazine. “And how did she get to be head of our schools.”

    “Not An Advocate for Students or the Public Interest” – historian Sherman Dorn onBetsy DeVos as Secretary of Education.”

    Via Politico: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has increased her financial stake in a ‘neurofeedback’ company that says its technology treats attention deficit disorder and the symptoms of autism. DeVos reported a new investment of between $250,001 and $500,000 in the Michigan-based Neurocore, according to a financial disclosure form that was certified by government ethics officials on Wednesday.”

    From the Department of Education press release: “Secretary DeVos Accepts President Trump’s Q2 Salary as a Donation for STEM-Focused Camp.” $100,000. Trump’s budget, of course, cuts $9.2 billion from the Department of Education.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Department of Education has placed restrictions on access to federal student aid for West Virginia public universities after the state was late submitting required annual financial statements for the third year in a row. The restrictions, known as heightened cash monitoring, mean that for five years higher ed institutions in the state must disburse aid to students first and then ask the feds for reimbursement.”

    More on the politics of student loans in the business of student loan section below.

    President Trump spoke to the Boys Scouts’ annual Jamboree, and his talk was, to put it nicely, “rambling.” “The president of the Boy Scouts needs the Trump administration to approve his mega-merger,” Quartz reports– that’s Randall Stephenson, also the CEO of AT&T. The Boy Scouts have apologized for Trump’s speech – sorta. It was one of those “I’m sorry you were offended” sorts of fauxpologies.

    Poor Pickle.

    Via CNN: “Cabinet members beware: What Trump is doing to Sessions can happen to you.” The story contains some machinations at the Department of Education in which the White House tried to fire a Jeb Bush-supporting staffer.

    Bloomberg reports that “Trump Administration Tapping Tech CEOs for STEM Policy Approach.” Those involved: investor Laurene Powell Jobs, Apple’s Tim Cook, and representatives from Chan Zuckerberg Initiative– so all the country’s best experts on STEM education clearly.

    Via The Washington Post: “ NAACP: School choice not the answer to improving education for black students.”

    (State and Local) Education Politics


    Via The Salt Lake Tribune: “Lawmaker: Utah‘s veteran educators may need to ’die off’ before technology fills classrooms.” The lawmaker in question: Republican State Senator Howard Stephenson.

    Education in the Courts


    Via Education Week: “Supreme Court sets Sept. 5 hearing on charter school funding.”

    Apple has been ordered to pay the University of Wisconsin $506 million for patent infringement.

    Via The New York Times: “Foster Care as Punishment: The New Reality of ‘Jane Crow’.”

    More legal cases in the for-profit higher ed section below.

    “Free College”


    “Dean Dad” Matt Reed on“Promises, Promises” – the free college programs in Oregon and New York.

    The Business of Student Loans


    Via the AP: “Records: Student-loan forgiveness has halted under Trump.”

    Via The Student Loan Report: “Halfway Through 2017, Here Are the Best & Worst Student Loan Servicers.” Congrats, Navient. You’re the worst.

    Via Bryan Alexander: “Student loans are cramping the American economy: what this could mean.”

    More on student loans and for-profits in the for-profit higher ed section below.

    OK, OK. It’s not necessarily student loan debt, but the story features swordsmen loan collectors, so I’m sharing it nonetheless. Via The Wall Street Journal: “Spain Has a Debt Problem, and So Now It Has a Zorro Problem.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


    “The Lower Ed Ecosystem: Bootcamps Edition” by sociologist Tressie McMillan Cottom.

    “Why Are Coding Bootcamps Going Out of Business?” by me.

    One thing I didn’t talk about in that story: what’s going to happen about the venture capital wing of The Iron Yard. I’m also curious how this news – again, I’m not sure two closures are really a “trend” – will affect student loan startups.

    The Flatiron School has released its latest “outcomes report.”

    On Tuesday a court dismissed a petition by Ashford University (owned by Bridgepoint Education) to allow its online programs to be eligible for GI Bill benefits. But as Inside Higher Ed reports later in the week: “In the latest development in an eventful saga, Ashford University on Wednesday announced that it is closer to preserving access to Post–9/11 GI Bill benefits.”

    Via the Twin Cities Pioneer Press: The Minnesota“Supreme Court says Globe U and MN School of Business made illegal loans.”

    National American University Holdings has acquiredHenley-Putnam University.

    “Graduate student enrollment is declining at for-profit institutions, but the sector continues to resonate with one particular demographic – black women,” according to Inside Higher Ed, drawing on a report from the Urban Institute.

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


    Lots of MOOC PR appeared in the news this week. Not sure where you plot this on the “hype cycle.”

    “What if MOOCs Revolutionize Education After All?” asks Edsurge.

    “Now that MOOCs are mainstream, where does online learning go next?” asks The Next Web.

    More questions about MOOCs in the Betteridge’s Headlines section below. And more on MOOCs in the credentialing section below as well.

    Via The Daily Times: “Blount County Schools building new options to personalize learning.” Boy, it seems as though “personalized learning” is really just code for “virtual charter schools.”

    Meanwhile on Campus…


    There are currently over 100 HBCUs in the US, but an article in HBCU Digest predicts“About 50 HBCUs Will Survive the Next Decade. It’s Time to Start Investing in Them.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A Warning, a Crusade, and a Public Reckoning at the U. of Florida.”

    The Wall Street Journal looks at the free textbook initiative at CUNY.

    Via The WSJ: “How a Catholic School Turned $15,000 Into $34 Million Thanks to Snapchat.” How Saint Francis High School plans to spend the money it earned from the Snap IPO – provided Snap shares are still worth anything.

    STAT on telemedicine in schools: “At a growing number of schools, sick kids can take a virtual trip to the doctor.”

    Accreditation and Certification


    Via The New York Times: “Proposal Would Let Charter Schools Certify Their Own Teachers.” This proposal is for some New York charters.

    Analysis from Mindwires Consulting’s Michael Feldstein: “‘Alternative Pathways:’ How to Rethink Vocational Education.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “MIT Deems MicroMasters a Success.”

    Research from Ithaka S+R on “non-college credentials,” as reported by Inside Higher Ed.

    Go, School Sports Team!


    Via The New York Times: “110 NFL Brains.” “A neuropathologist has examined the brains of 111 N.F.L. players – and 110 were found to have C.T.E., the degenerative disease linked to repeated blows to the head.” In addition to looking at NFL players’ brains, the researchers also look at those of high school players and found evidence of CTE there too.

    Via ESPN: “Ravens OL John Urschel, 26, retires abruptly, two days after CTE study.” Urschel is getting his PhD in math at MIT.

    Are folks in Texas paying attention to the danger they’re exposing their kids to? Probably not. Via The LA Times: “After Texas high school builds $60-million stadium, rival district plans one for nearly $70 million.”

    Meanwhile in that other big football state, Nebraska, the World Herald reports that “Sherwood Foundation buys data-tracking helmets for every OPS high school football player.” OPS = the Omaha Public Schools

    From the HR Department


    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Steven Salaita, Whose Revoked Job Offer Inflamed Higher Ed, Says He’s Leaving Academe.”

    USC says it will fireCarmen Puliafito, the former dean of its medical school and the center of a LA Times investigation into his drug use and partying.

    Ed-Tech Magazine asks“How Diverse Is the Higher Ed IT Workforce?” Spoiler alert: not very.

    Every once in a while – well actually, pretty often – someone has to trot out a Steve Jobs quote in order to justify their vision for the future of education. So this, from the American Enterprise Institute, is completely unsurprising: “School-choice advocate Steve Jobs in 1995: ‘The unions are the worst thing that ever happened to education’.”

    The Business of Job Training


    “Big Venture Investments in HR Startups& What it Means for Education” by Learn Capital’s Tom Vander Ark.

    Contests and Awards


    Via Techcrunch: “Microsoft’s Imagine Cup crowns its 15th winner, the X.GLU smart glucose meter for kids.”

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


    Are MOOCs, Bootcamps and Other Alternative Education Options Effective?asks US News & World Report.

    Should big data be used to discourage poor students from university?asks ZDNet.

    Are iPads and laptops improving students’ test scores?asks the Pioneer Press.

    Can personalized learning prevail?asks Chester E. Finn, Jr.

    Is higher ed creating the next dropout factories?asks Education Dive.

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

    Upgrades and Downgrades


    Via Ed Week’s Market Brief: “African Ed-Tech Incubator Aims to Set Companies, and Students, on Winning Path.” The incubator, which claims to be the first on the continent, is led by Jamie Martin, an advisor to former UK education secretary Michael Gove so this all sounds awful.

    Speaking of imperialism, The Guardian covers a report from Global Media which describes Facebook’s Free Basics program as “digital colonialism.” “Facebook is not introducing people to open internet where you can learn, create and build things. It’s building this little web that turns the user into a mostly passive consumer of mostly western corporate content,” says Ellery Biddle, Global Voices’ advocacy director.

    As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg travels around the US to “learn about people’s challenges,” one of his employees, living out a a garage, suggests maybe Zuck pay attention to inequalities in his own backyard.

    The New York Times profilesthe Horowitz family: son Ben is part of the famous venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, father David is a right-wing activist.

    The New York Times continues its coverage of the awfulness of tech companies’ employee policies: “Abuses Hide in the Silence of Nondisparagement Agreements.”

    Inc lists“5 Entrepreneurs That Are Shaking Up Education” and includes the CEO of Blackboard. Oh Inc. Never change.

    “A Tech Bubble Killed Computer Science Once, Can It Do So Again?” asks IEEE.

    Microsoftplans to axeMicrosoft Paint.

    Adobeplans to axeFlash.

    As schools move to digital-only, encouraged of course by the ideology of “innovation,” it’s important to remember how fragile this makes resources. The Harvard Library Innovation Lab on link rot: “A Million Squandered: The ‘Million Dollar Homepage’ as a Decaying Digital Artifact.”

    Related: Michael Caulfield makes“A Call to Info-Environmentalism.”

    Elsewhere in media literacy, the AP reports thatTexas educators work to use technology to fight fake news.”

    Via Edsurge: “Google and Digital Promise Reimagine Teacher Tech Training with New National Program.”

    Via Education Week: “Google Launches $50 Million Effort on the Future of Work.”

    Virtual Reality and education: some thoughts” from Tony Bates.

    Via Campus Technology: “2017 Ed Tech Trends: The Halfway Point.” VR, AI, etc.

    Via the press release: “Canvas Announces Skill for Amazon Alexa.” Because everyone’s just dying to interact with the LMS through their home surveillance device.

    Bloomberg interviews the CEO of SnapAsk: “Bringing the Uber Model to Online Tutoring.” At this stage, any company that compares themselves to Uber is out of their mind.

    “These Kids Are Learning CRISPR At Summer Camp,” Motherboard reports. What could possibly go wrong?

    Via Edsurge: “Global STEM Alliance is Encouraging Students to be a New Kind of Billionaire.” “A new kind of billionaire” is this bullshit: “The new definition of a billionaire is a person or group of people, that can touch, teach or influence a billion people.”

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


    Artificial intelligence holds great potential for both students and teachers – but only if used wisely,” say Simon Knight and Simon Buckingham Shum writing in The Conversation.

    From the Raspberry Pi blog: “IoT Sleepbuddy, the robotic babysitter.”

    Via Campus Technology: “Carnegie Mellon Debuts Initiative to Combine Disparate AI Research.”

    Also via Campus Technology: “Stanford Launches Platform Lab for Centralized Control of Autonomous Cars, Drones.”

    Also via Campus Technology: “2 Cornell U Teams Land up to $15 Million to Study AI, Autonomous Systems.”

    More details on the funding news below by here’s the headline from the press release: “Liulishuo raises approximately $100M in Series C funding to extend its lead in building smart AI English teachers.”

    Tutorbots are here,” says Donald Clark, listing “7 ways they could change the learning landscape.”

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform


    Non Profit Quarterly looks at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s plans for education. (Or what we can glean about the plans, considering the investment company’s lack of transparency.)

    Laurene Powell Jobs (widow of Steve Jobs) has bought a majority stake in The Atlantic, so I guess there’ll be a lot more stories there about how awesome ed-tech is.

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


    BYJU’s has raised an undisclosed amount of money from Tencent. The test prep company has raised at least $204 million in funding.

    Liulishuo has raised $100 million in Series C funding from China Media Capital, Wu Capital, Cherubic Ventures, GGV Capital, Hearst Ventures, IDG Capital Partners, and Trustbridge Partners. It’s not known how much the English language-learning company has previously raised.

    Duolingo has raised $25 million in Series E funding from Drive Capital. The language learning app has raised $108.3 million total.

    Signal Vine has raised $2 million in Series A funding from New Markets Venture Partners. The messaging company has raised $2.25 million total.

    PlayAblo has raised $600,000 from ABI-Showatech for its “gamified learning experience.”

    Frontline Education has acquired the School Improvement Network. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    Not an ed-tech update, but it’s a business of tech update so I’ll include it here. Via The New York Times: “Facebook’s Profit and Revenue Surge, Despite Company Predictions of a Slowdown.”

    Also not an ed-tech update, but also a story that’s relevant to the business of tech and the business of ed reform: “Move Over, Bill Gates. Jeff Bezos Gets a Turn as World’s Richest Person,” The New York Times reports. Briefly. Just briefly. As Amazon’s stock price fell below $1063 a share, Gates took the top spot back.

    More details on Betsy DeVos’s investment in Neurocore in the politics section above.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Measuring Clicks, Emotions, and Brain Waves: Student Recruitment Keeps Evolving.” So, it’s like advertising but with even more privacy invasion.

    Via Ed Week’s Market Brief: “Predictive Analytics in Ed-Tech Create New Questions in K–12, Higher Ed” – a dispatch from an Education Technology Industry Network event.

    Speaking of predictive analytics, this by The Atlantic’s Adrienne LaFrance raises a lot of questions about kids (and advertising) and algorithms: “The Algorithm That Makes Preschoolers Obsessed With YouTube.”

    From the press release: “Big Data Analysis Helps Students Choose College Majors.”

    Proctoring company Proctorio says it now integrates with Google Classroom– something in the press release about “complimentary exam integrity.”

    Speaking of Google and surveillance, "Google Glass 2.0 Is a Startling Second Act, says Wired’s Steven Levy. The spyware will be used in factories. I guess that means it’ll be used in schools since they rely on a factory model of education?

    Via Honi Soit: “University abandons Cadmus anti-cheating software.” The university in question: University of Sydney. The software would have registered students’ locations when using the app to write essays.

    Via PC Mag: “FBI: Your Kid’s Internet-Connected Toys Might Be Spying on Them.”

    There’s another Internet-connected spy story in the upgrade/downgrade section above – something about the LMS Canvas and Alexa.

    Data and “Research”


    Edsurge looks at the “Board of Directors for 20 Best Funded Private US Edtech Companies.” Shocking: there are very few women on these boards.

    The investment analysts at CB Insights report that “Kid-Friendly: Baby And Children’s Tech Startups On Track To Reach Five-Year Deal High.” (It’s challenging, I think, to separate “kid tech” from “ed-tech,” in part because the latter is increasingly consumer-focused and is often not about “learning” in the first place.)

    Edsurge reports that“Fueled by Big Rounds, US Edtech Funding Surges to $887M in First Half of 2017.” By my calculations, the number is higher: $1.4 billion. But I insist on including student loan startups.

    Via The Chronicle of Philanthropy: “Nonprofits with large endowments are collecting more than twice as much money as they are spending on grants, facilities, and administrative and other costs, a new data analysis of 1,600 organizations by The Chronicle shows.” Among the big endowments: Liberty University and the NCAA.

    Via WaPo’s Valerie Strauss: “ Neil deGrasse Tyson blames U.S. schools for flat-Earthers– and teachers aren’t amused.”

    Pro tip: do not include fMRIs in your slides in order to justify whatever you want to say about education reform and education technology by what you think these images say about attention, engagement, cognition, brain activity, etc.

    Via Education Week: “Social-Emotional-Learning Researchers Gather Input From Educators.”

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “New Guidance on Conducting Research Unveiled for Ed-Tech Companies.” The guidance comes from the Education Technology Industry Network, a division of the Software & Information Industry Association.

    Like the “What Works Clearinghouse,” except not – USC’s Morgan Polikoff on“The Don’t Do It Depository.”

    For $500 you can buy the report from the Serious Play Conference that outlines the future of game-based learning and predicts these products will have $8.1 billion in revenue by 2022.

    Campus Technology says that that famous predictor Gartner predicts that IT spending is going to hit $3.5 trillion in 2017.

    Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill offers some data on Google Classroom adoption in higher ed.

    Via WalletHub: “2017’s Most & Least Educated Cities in America.”

    Via Education Week: “U.S. Children Gain Ground in Home Supports, Federal Data Show.”

    Inside Higher Ed on a new study on the connection between tuition and state funding: “For every $1,000 cut from per-student state and local appropriations, the average student can be expected to pay $257 more per year in tuition and fees – and the rate is rising.”

    Via NPR: “College Tuition Grows At Slowest Pace In Decades.”

    The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson invokes T. S. Eliot. “This is the Way the College ‘Bubble’ Ends. Not with a pop, but a hiss.”

    “The Online College Students 2017: Comprehensive Data on Demands and Preferences” – a survey from The Learning House Inc and Aslanian Market Research.

    More data on for-profit higher ed enrollment in the for-profit higher ed section above.

    Some interesting statistics about education from The Economist’s recent article on China and Africa:

    …in 2014 the number of African students in China surpassed the number studying in either Britain or America, the traditional destinations for English-speakers (France still beats all three, however). Much of the growth is because China has given tens of thousands of scholarships to African students, the academics say.

    Bridge International Academies touts research by Bridge International Academies that Bridge International Academies improves student outcomes in Liberia.

    “Why the Myth of Meritocracy Hurts Kids of Color” by Melinda D. Anderson in The Atlantic.

    Ravens can plan for future as well as 4-year-old children can,” says New Scientist.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project


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  • 08/04/17--05:00: Hack Education Weekly News
  • (National) Education Politics


    The New York Times broke the story this week that “Justice Dept. to Take On Affirmative Action in College Admissions.” And by “take on,” that means “investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants.”

    (It would be pretty great if the DOJ would investigate how legacy admissions and big donations let mediocre white applicants like Donald Trump and Jared Kushner get into Ivy League schools.)

    As the week went on the story changed slightly…

    Via NPR: “DOJ Looks Into Whether Harvard Discriminates Against Asian-Americans.” More via Buzzfeed and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “What You Need to Know About Race-Conscious Admissions in 2017.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “On Affirmative Action, Candice Jackson Said Civil-Rights Office Would Not ‘Push a Social Agenda’.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “Arne Duncan criticizes Betsy DeVos on civil rights, says she hasn’t asked for his advice.” I mean…

    In other Arne news, Chalkbeat also reports that “‘I think that’s blood money’: Arne Duncan pushed charters to reject funds from Trump admin if budget cuts approved.”

    Politico reports that the Department of Education has reached a deal with the US Marshals Service to continue providing protection for Betsy DeVos. The cost for the services from her appointment through September 30: $7.78 million. In the past, Secretaries of Education have just used the department’s own force.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Federal Sex-Assault Investigations Are Being Resolved More Often. These 11 Cases Show How.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Senate Passes GI Bill Update.”

    “Republicans try to take cheap phones and broadband away from poor people,” Ars Technica reports. “The legislation filed on Friday targets Lifeline, which is a Universal Service Fund program paid for by surcharges on phone bills. If the bill passes, low-income Americans would no longer be able to use $9.25 monthly subsidies toward cellular phone service or mobile broadband. The subsidies would still be available for landline phone service.”

    More on Trump’s proposed immigration policies in the immigration section below. More on the Department of Education’s student loan forgiveness (or lack thereof) in the student loan section below.

    Japan Might Be What Equality in Education Looks Like,” says The Atlantic’s Alana Semuels.

    Via the BBC: “How Canada became an education superpower.”

    From the press release: “174 organisations worldwide call investors to cease support to American chain of schools Bridge International Academies.”

    (State and Local) Education Politics


    “The Campus-Speech Debate Spends Summer Break in Statehouses,” according to The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf.

    Via NPR: “New Florida Law Lets Residents Challenge School Textbooks.” What could possibly go wrong?

    Via EdSource: “Cal State drops intermediate algebra as requirement to take some college-level math courses.”

    The Hechinger Report reports on the HOPE Scholarship program in Georgia and asks why a huge surplus in funds isn’t being spent to help more students with financial aid.

    Via NPR: “Illinois Governor Vetoes Education Funding Plan.”

    Immigration and Education


    Via The Washington Post: “ He went to ICE to tell agents he had gotten into college. Now he and his brother have been deported.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A bill backed by President Trump and announced Wednesday aims to reduce overall legal immigration by half while putting in place a new points-based system for applicants for employment-based green cards that would privilege graduates of American universities.”

    Education in the Courts


    Via Buzzfeed: “This 8-Year-Old Transgender Girl Is Suing Her Private School For Discrimination.”

    Via The New York Times: “Harassment Suit Against a Stanford Dean Is Rejected.”

    A ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union raises interesting questions about the ownership of student data: “Exam scripts and examiner’s corrections are personal data of the exam candidate.”

    Testing, Testing…


    From the Khan Academy blog: “Khan Academy is the Official Practice Partner for AP.” This is the second major partnership the organization has made with the College Board, as Khan Academy is also its test prep site of choice for the SAT.

    Via Mindshift: “AP Computer Science Principles Attract Diverse Students With Real-World Problems.”

    “Free College”


    Rhode Island’s new state budget makes community college tuition-free for new high school graduates who enroll full-time and maintain a 2.5 or higher grade point average,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    The Business of Student Loans


    Via NPR: “New Fears For Public Service Loan Forgiveness.”

    Via The New York Times: “DeVos Abandons Plan to Allow One Company to Service Federal Student Loans.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


    Coding Bootcamps Won’t Save Us All,” Edsurge informs us.

    Edsurge also wants you to know that “​More Bootcamps Are Quietly Coming to a University Near You.”

    The Next Web reports that coding bootcamp Coding Dojo will no longer teach Ruby on Rails. It will teach Java instead.

    Buzzfeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy looks at the acquisition of EDMC– the parent company of the Art Institutes chain – by The Dream Center Foundation, a network of Christian missionary centers.

    The for-profit Charlotte School of Lawsays it might get its access to federal financial aid restored.

    Via the Indianapolis Business Journal: “Legal skirmishes break out over ITT documents, data.”

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


    Via Edsurge: “As In-Person Bootcamps Falter, Codecademy Introduces Paid Online Options.” Codecademy, Edsurge contends, is now a competitor to Coursera and Udacity.

    Pretty sure this is the best MOOC story of the week: “Russian Underground Launches Online Courses in Card Fraud,” Infosecurity Group reports.

    Via Business Insider: “Online learning may be the future of education – we compared 4 platforms that are leading the way.” Not sure why these are the four, but there you go: Udemy, Lynda, Coursera, and Skillshare.

    Via Edsurge: “‘Not Everyone Is Built for It’: Students Offer Their Take on Virtual Schooling.”

    Meanwhile on Campus…


    As part of its back-to-school series, The New York Times looks atdeath threats and protests as professors’ statements about race and politics go viral.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “In Charlottesville, UVa Grapples With Its History and the Alt-Right.”

    “For the first time in Harvard University’s history, the majority of students accepted into the incoming freshman class are not white,” The Boston Globe reports.

    Inside Higher Ed reports thatNational University is working to create a personalized education platform that combines three of the buzziest innovations in higher education – adaptive learning, competency-based learning and predictive analytics for student retention.”

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “Urban Colleges Move Into K–12 Schools to Help Kids and Themselves.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The University of California, Irvine, announced Wednesday that most of those whose admissions offers were revoked last month will in fact be admitted. The announcement follows anger at the news that about 500 acceptances were revoked last month, leaving students scrambling to find college options. The university said that the unusually high number of revoked acceptances had no relationship to the news that about 800 more freshmen were planning to enroll in the fall than Irvine had expected.”

    School mergers are hard.

    Via KPCC: “Vaccination rates in California schools reached an all-time high last school year, but one subset of public schools still appears to be lagging behind: charter schools.”

    Accreditation and Certification


    The Michigan Department of Education is phasing out teaching endorsements in 12 subjects, including computer science.

    From the HR Department


    “A Caltech Professor Who Harassed Two Female Students Has Resigned,” Buzzfeed’s Azeen Ghorayshi reports. (And it is thanks, in no small part, to her reporting on Christian Ott in the first place.)

    Barbara Means and Jeremy Roschelle have left **SRI International **and joined Digital Promise, where they’ll create a new research center, Edsurge reports.

    Renaissance has a new CEO: Daniel Hamburger, formerly CEO of the for-profit college chain DeVry.

    Peter Oppenheim has been confirmed as the Assistant Secretary of Education for Legislation and Congressional Affairs, the first appointment confirmed to the Department of Education since DeVos became Secretary.

    Via The Seattle Times: “UW researcher Michael Katze fired after sexual-harassment investigation.” UW here is the University of Washington.

    Zuckerberg hires former Clinton pollster Joel Benenson,” Politico reports. Totally not running for President, is he.

    The Business of Job Training


    Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) has an op-ed in The NYT lamenting the lack of child labor or something: “What to Do With the Kids This Summer? Put ’Em to Work.”

    Via Techcrunch: “LinkedIn is rolling out a free service to pair users with mentors.”

    Via Edsurge: “Not All Career and Technical Education Programs Are Created Equal.”

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


    Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?asks Jean Twenge in The Atlantic.

    Will ‘Publish or Perish’ Become ‘Clicks or Canned’?asks Edsurge.

    Has the Game Really Changed?asks Edsurge, with “Notes From the 2017 Games for Change Festival.”

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

    Upgrades and Downgrades


    Via Edsurge: “Apple iPad Sales to Schools Jump 32%, Selling 1M Tablets in Fiscal Q3 2017.”

    Via Techcrunch: “Mystery Science partners with Google to bring eclipse glasses to elementary school students.”

    From the Pearson blog: “The future of language learning: Augmented reality vs virtual reality.”

    “A New Way for Therapists to Get Inside Heads: Virtual Reality,” says The New York Times. Great.

    The Global Times reporting from China: “Schools adopt VR, among other technologies, to instill correct ideology in students.”

    VR company AltSpaceVR is shutting down.

    “The Spotify of the textbook world takes off as Bibliotech is go,” says Jisc. (Pro tip: do not compare your education product or idea with commercial tech, particularly companies with exploitative practices and/or shoddy businesses.)

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Barnes & Noble Education has joined an alliance of publishers and distributors taking steps to stop the sale of illegally copied textbooks.”

    Stephen Downes gives an update ongRSShopper in a Box.”

    “For Code.org, Training Computer Science Teachers Isn’t Really About Computer Science,” says Education Week. (Spoiler alert: it’s about learning how to teach differently.)

    Personalized learning is anything you want it to be.

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


    Via ELearning Inside: “Amazon’s Alexa: Your Next Teacher.”

    The New York Times offers advice on “How to Prepare Preschoolers for an Automated Economy.” Make them learn to code, of course.

    Edsurge has“Real Questions About Artificial Intelligence in Education.” As opposed to fake questions, I guess.

    Via Pacific Standard: “How Artificial Intelligence Could Benefit Those in Empathy-Centric Professions.”

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform


    NewSchools Venture Fund says it has $8 million in “new funding opportunities” for “creating innovative district and charter schools,” “building technology tools to better support student learning,” and “cultivating pipelines of diverse leaders in educaiton.”

    Via The Cut: “Rihanna Is Sponsoring a Bike-Share Program So Girls in Malawi Can Go to School.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


    Hustle has raised $8 million in Series A funding from Social Capital, Canvas Ventures, Designer Fund, Foundation Capital, GSV Acceleration, Higher Ground Labs, Index Ventures, Kapor Capital, Matrix Partners, New Media Ventures, Omidyar Network, Salesforce Ventures, and Twilio. The messaging app has raised $11 million total. (It’s not clear to me that this is ed-tech, even though Edsurge covers the investment – failing to disclose, of course, that it shares two investors with Hustle: GSV and the Omidyar Network.)

    Sawyer has raised $6 million from Advance Venture Partners, 3311 Ventures, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Collaborative Fund, and Female Founders Fund. The company, which helps parents find classes for their children, has raised $8 million total.

    Course recommendation app Chalkboard Education has raised $235,440 in seed funding from the Jacobs FOundation.

    Elsevier has acquiredbepress. As The Scholarly Kitchen’s Roger Schonfeld writes, “Elsevier is now a major if not the foremost single player in the institutional repository landscape. If successful, and there are some risks, this acquisition will position Elsevier as an increasingly dominant player in preprints, continuing its march to adopt and coopt open access.”

    ACT has invested $10.5 million in the venture firm New Markets Venture Partners.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


    Disney’s Next Movie Could Be Watching You, Too,” says Fast Company. Facial recognition to gauge audience reaction. Oh think of the ed-tech possibilities.

    Lots of ed-tech possibilities in this one too, via Bloomberg: “This app tells you when you’re depressed. Who else does it tell?”

    Via Education Week: “COPPA and Schools: The (Other) Federal Student Privacy Law, Explained.”

    Via School Transportation News: “How Predictive Analytics Can Help the School Bus Industry.”

    Via Campus Technology: “A team of researchers from New York University (NYU), University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and Google estimates that victims of ransomware have paid out more than $25 million over the last two years.”

    Via The San Francisco Examiner: “Possible Russian hackers may have targeted SFSU student data.”

    More on an online class, offered by Russian hackers, on credit card fraud in the MOOC section above.

    Data and “Research”


    “The Business of Ed-Tech: July 2017 Funding Data” – my latest calculations of the amount of venture funding in ed-tech.

    Via Education Dive: “Report: Ed tech innovation a growing field for private contracting.” Oh good grief.

    “What role does research play in EdTech decision-making?” asks the WCET blog.

    Via the BBC: “Playing brain games‘of little benefit’, say experts.”

    Via Mindshift: “What Works For Getting Kids to Enjoy Reading?” (An excerpt from Daniel Willingham’s new book.)

    Via Mindshift: “Autism Symptoms are Less Obvious in Girls and May Lead to Underdiagnosis.”

    Via The 74: “Reports of bullying and violence in America’s public schools are on the decline, according to a report published Thursday by the U.S. Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics.”

    Also from the NCES, a report on “Change in Number and Types of Postsecondary Institutions: 2000 to 2014.”

    Chalkbeat’s Matt Barnum with more research on vouchers and “choice.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “Do charter schools hurt their neighboring schools? A new study of New York City schools says no – they help.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Universities With the Highest Research-and-Development Spending Financed by Business, FY 2015.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “New study finds 13 percent of community college students lack the food and nutrition they need.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Survey of voting bloc that favored Trump finds skepticism about value of higher education.”

    Icon credits: The Noun Project


    0 0
  • 08/11/17--07:00: Hack Education Weekly News
  • (National) Education Politics


    The AP interviews US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who laments “she didn’t decry racism enough.”

    Via Politico: “New marching orders from Betsy DeVos’ civil rights chief have the Education Department churning through civil rights complaints. The department has closed more than 1,500 complaints of discrimination at the nation’s schools – including dismissing more than 900 outright — in the two months since Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Candice Jackson took steps she said were aimed at reducing a massive backlog.”

    Via Education Week: “ESSA Point Man Jason Botel to Leave Education Dept. Post, Sources Say.” Before joining the Trump administration, Botel had founded a KIPP school in Baltimore.

    Via Education Week: “E-Rate, Other Universal-Service Funds to Be Transferred to U.S. Treasury.”

    Via The New York Times: “Britain Turns to Chinese Textbooks to Improve Its Math Scores.”

    (State and Local) Education Politics


    Via The New York Times: “Daniel Loeb, a Cuomo Donor, Makes Racial Remark About Black Leader.” Loeb is the chairman of the Success Academy charter school chain.

    Via The NY Daily News: “Critics slam $669G contract for former NYC school official’s math program.” That’s Joel Rose’s School of One software.

    Via The LA Times: “Former L.A. schools food guru charged with mishandling district funds.” David Binkle, that is, LAUSD’s former food services director.

    Via The New York Times: New York governor “Cuomo to Give Colleges $7 Million for Courses in Prisons.”

    Chicago Public Schools will lay off 950 employees.

    Via The Chicago Sun Times: “Chance the Rapper pushing to #supportCPS.”

    Immigration and Education


    Via Buzzfeed: “More Chinese Students Are Coming To US High Schools To Get Into American Colleges.”

    Via The Intercept: “These Are the Technology Firms Lining Up to Build Trump’s ‘Extreme Vetting’ Program.”

    Education in the Courts


    Not really ed-tech-related, except for all those companies saying they’re “Uber for education.” Via The New York Times: “Uber Investor Sues Travis Kalanick for Fraud.”

    Not really ed-tech related, except that Vinod Khosla is a venture capitalist. (His education portfolio.) Via The Mercury News: “Court orders tech billionaire to open up Martins Beach.”

    Via Vulture: “LeVar Burton Sued for Using His Reading Rainbow Catchphrase on His Podcast.”

    Via The Verge: “Disney sued for allegedly spying on children through 42 gaming apps.”

    Via Gamasutra: “Parents take Subway Surfers devs to court over alleged misuse of kids’ data.”

    Via The Atlantic: “The JCC Bomb-Threat Suspect Had a Client.” Michael Kadar, who’s been accused of making over two hundred threats to Jewish Community Centers and schools, offered his services online: $30 to email a bomb threat to a school.

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “Judge Rejects Bankrupt Woman’s Bid to Cancel $333,423 Student Loan Bill.”

    Testing, Testing…


    The Chronicle of Higher Education reads“New Venture Will Offer Free Courses That Students Can Take for College Credit.” The courses are for AP exams, which some colleges do count for credit, I suppose and are being offered through Modern States Education Alliance, which is run by Steven Klinsky, a private equity firm.

    Via The New York Times: “More Law Schools Begin Accepting GRE Test Results.”

    The Business of Student Loans


    OpenSecrets.org on how the student loan industry and higher ed institutions spend their lobbying dollars: “The politics behind your college and how you pay for it.”

    Trump’s Student-Loan Plan Could Be A Great Deal For Undergrads,” says Buzzfeed– as long as you’re not poor.

    Via The New York Times: “$78,000 of Debt for a Harvard Theater Degree.”

    More on student loans in the for-profit higher ed section below and the court section above.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


    Purdue-Kaplan online university one step closer to reality,” the Journal & Courier reports. More via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via The New York Times: “U.S. to Help Remove Debt Burden for Students Defrauded by For-Profit Chain.” That is, for the 36,000 students who attended Wilfred American Education Corporation’s beauty and secretary schools.

    Via The Atlantic: “The Future of a Once-Doomed Law School.” That’s the for-profit Charlotte School of Law, which might be “saved by Trump-era regulatory rollbacks.”

    “The Obama administration shut down Globe U, but an affiliated university bought four of its Wisconsin campuses with the backing of the Trump administration and a state regulator with a tough reputation on for-profits,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “2-Pronged Strategy Against ‘Gainful’ Rule.”

    Via Reuters: “Some U.S. coding boot camps stumble in a crowded field.”

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


    Via Edsurge: “Andrew Ng, Co-Founder of Coursera, Returns to MOOC Teaching With New AI Course.” More via Wired.

    Harvard will offer a new, online business analytics certificate program through 2U. Edsurge has a story about this too– no disclosure that John Katzman, one of the founders of 2U, is an Edsurge investor.

    Meanwhile on Campus…


    Via the Dallas News: “Self-published ‘Pepe the Frog’ kids’ book is conservative but not alt-right, Denton ISD admin says.” JFC, can you imagine having to send your kid to this principal’s school?!

    “Who’s Taking College Spots From Top Asian Americans?” asks ProPublica. “Privileged Whites.”

    Chalkbeat onvouchers in Indiana: “Choice for most: In nation’s largest voucher program, $16 million went to schools with anti-LGBT policies.”

    The New York Times on “mastery based learning: “A New Kind of Classroom: No Grades, No Failing, No Hurry.”

    Inside Higher Ed profiles career and technical education at Arkansas State University Newport: “Men Flock to Short-Term Career Ed.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The University of Texas at Austin has unveiled Stampede2, said to be the most powerful supercomputer at any campus in the U.S.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Marygrove College to Eliminate All Undergraduate Programs.”

    Holy shit. “Iowa State University seeks 7 percent annual tuition hike for each of next 5 years,” The Des Moines Register reports.

    Sara Goldrick-Rab recommends professors put a statement about “basic needs security” on their syllabi.

    Accreditation and Certification


    Via Inside Higher Ed: “$147,000 for a One-Year Master’s? In Journalism?” A master of science in data journalism from Columbia University’s School of Journalism. (Disclosure: I’m heading to the school in a couple of weeks for a Spencer Fellowship, which pays me, thank god.)

    The University of Maine at Presque Isle has created an online, competency-based degree aimed at adult students,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Go, School Sports Team!


    An op-ed in The LA Times: “Josh Rosen is right to question the value of student-athletes’ education.” Rosen is UCLA’s quarterback.

    Recommended viewing: Last Chance Uon Netflix. Season Two was recently released.

    Via NPR: “NCAA Will Require Athletes And Coaches To Complete Sexual Violence Education.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Big-Time Sports Programs Tighten Rules on Athletes With Sexual-Assault Records.”

    The Google Memo


    I’m putting this into its own category. It’s part an HR story, but it’s also a culture of tech story. And if you think it has nothing to do with education, I don’t even know what to say to you.

    Via Motherboard: “Google Employee’s Anti-Diversity Manifesto Goes ‘Internally Viral’.”

    Via Wired: “Internal Messages Show Some Googlers Supported Fired Engineer’s Manifesto.”

    Via The Guardian’s Julie Carrie Wong: “Segregated Valley: the ugly truth about Google and diversity in tech.”

    “A Googler’s Would-Be Manifesto Reveals Tech’s Rotten Coreby Ian Bogost.

    Via Gizmodo: “Fired Google Memo Writer Took Part in Controversial, ‘Sexist’ Skit While at Harvard for Which Administration Issued Formal Apology.”

    Via Recode: “Google CEO Sundar Pichai canceled an all-hands meeting about gender controversy due to employee worries of online harassment.”

    From the HR Department


    ISTE has hiredJoseph South as its Chief Learning Officer. South previously worked at the US Department of Education and K12 Inc.

    The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s CTO, Brian Pinkerton, is leaving the company.

    “​Pearson to Lay Off 3,000 More Employees,” says Edsurge.

    The Business of Job Training


    Via the Coursera blog: “What’s Next in Employee Learning: Virtual Reality.”

    Via The New York Times: “At Walmart Academy, Training Better Managers. But With a Better Future?”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “McDonald’s brings a flexible approach and free career and college advising to its tuition assistance program, which is aimed in part at keeping employees on the job longer.”

    “In the push to expand ‘earn-while-you-learn’ programs, what lessons can the U.S. take from approaches in Germany and Switzerland?” asks Inside Higher Ed.

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


    Is a Spotify approach the future of curriculum?asks Education Dive.

    Will blockchain change the face of K–12 record storage and tracking?asks Education Dive.

    Can Minecraft Camp Help Open Up The Tech World To Low-Income Kids?asks Mindshift.

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

    Upgrades and Downgrades


    Larry Cuban on personalized learning: part 1 and part 2.

    Jen Howard on“What Happened to Google’s Effort to Scan Millions of University Library Books?”

    Via Techcrunch: “Sony wants to digitize education records using the blockchain.”

    “‘Schoolifying’ Minecraft Without Ruining It” by NPR’s Anya Kamenetz.

    The Wall Street Journal predicts“The End of Typing: The Next Billion Mobile Users Will Rely on Video and Voice.” I mean, as long as data isn’t an issue and tech companies can build voice recognition software that recognizes languages other than English and accents other than Californian.

    The Internet Archive’s Jason Scott on“Celebrating 30 Years of HyperCard.”

    The Chronicle of Higher Education on Elsevier“becoming a data company.”

    “The Culture Wars Have Come to Silicon Valley,” The New York Times pronounces, with a look at internal tussles between Facebook board members Peter Thiel and Reed Hastings.

    Peter Thiel Has Been Hedging His Bet On Donald Trump,” Buzzfeed claims.

    Phil Hill on an “LMS Revival: D2L picking up new customers and showing they can listen.”

    The Giant Inflatable Trump Chicken of Ed Techby Michael Feldstein.

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “‘Driverless’ Van Turns Out to Be Va. Tech Researcher Costumed as Car Seat.”

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform


    Wired argues thatJeff Bezos Should Put His Billions Into Libraries.” It reminded me, not of Carnegie who the article mentions, but of Gates, who initially started funding libraries – public and collective access to digital technologies – before turning to school reform and “personalized learning” efforts.

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


    Tinkergarten has raised $5.4 million in Series A funding from Owl Ventures, Omidyar Network, and Reach Capital. The company has $8.3 million total.

    The private equity firm Thoma Bravo has acquiredFrontline Education.

    Impero Software has been acquired by Investment Technology Partners which paid $36.3 million.

    Barnes & Noble Education has acquiredStudent Brands, which includes the Cram and StudyMode homework help sites.

    I missed this news back in February: CheggacquiredRefMe.

    More from EdWeek’s Market Brief on ACT’s investment last week in the venture firm New Markets Venture Partners.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


    NIST has changes its recommendations for passwords.

    Via Arkansas Online: “License plate readers at University of Arkansas to be delayed.”

    Via Education Week: “Risky Practices With Students’ Data Security Are Common, Survey Suggests.”

    Data and “Research”


    ProPublica has updated its “Nonprofit Explorer,” which provides financial data on tax-exempt organizations. Khan Academy, for example, had $27.9 million in revenue in 2015, and its executive compensation was $2.8 million.

    Via The Verge: “Kik has become ‘the defacto app’ for child predators, according to an investigative report.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Most competency-based education programs remain nascent, highly localized and of limited size, according a new report from Eduventures, Ellucian and the American Council on Education.”

    “How Minecraft Supports Social and Emotional Learning in K–12 Education” – a new report from Getting Smart.

    Via Campus Technology: “Report: VR and AR to Double Each Year Through 2021.” Yeah, I’ll be watching this prediction.

    “There are 2.4 million fewer college students than there were five years ago,” says Hechinger Report, proving a map to visualize the demographic shift.

    Via Axios: “Wall Street outpaces Silicon Valley on gender equality.”

    Via Campus Technology: “This academic year, the average cost of college students’ required course materials dropped to $579, down from $602 last year and $701 in 2007–2008, according to a new report from the National Association of College Stores.”

    The Pew Research Center on the future of trust online.

    Via The New York Times: “A Few Telling Freshman Trends.”

    A report from The Century Foundation on outsourcing and ed-tech: “The Private Side of Public Higher Education.” (Here’s IHE’s coverage.)

    Icon credits: The Noun Project


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  • 08/18/17--04:15: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Charlottesville and UVA


    Hundreds of white supremacistsmarched at the University of Virginia campus Friday night, carrying torches and chanting “blood and soil.” On Saturday, the Unite the Right rally met again in the streets of Charlottesville. A counter protester was killed when a white nationalist allegedly ran his car into a crowd of people.

    President Trump did not condemn the violence of the white supremacists. Instead he blamed “both sides,” later insisting that “very fine people” were marching with the neo-Nazis.

    There’s more on white nationalists on campus in the “meanwhile on campus” section below.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “As White Supremacists Wreak Havoc, a University Becomes a Crisis Center.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “As UVa’s Leaders Equivocate, Professors Shine an Ethical Light.”

    UVA’s Siva Vaidhyanathan in The New York Times: “Why the Nazis Came to Charlottesville.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “UVa Employee Suffers a Stroke After Campus Clash With White Supremacists.”

    Via The LA Times: “Who was responsible for the violence in Charlottesville? Here’s what witnesses say.”

    An op-ed in The LA Times: “What UVA did wrong when white supremacists came to campus.”

    Tennessee’s former education commissioner called on Betsy DeVos to resign as the nation’s education chief Thursday because of her boss’s ambivalent response to racist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia,” Chalkbeat reports.

    Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ first response – two tweets, inititally – just talked about “hate-filled rhetoric,” but she sent an email to her staff on Thursday that was more forceful. Via Chalkbeat: “In departure from Trump, Betsy DeVos calls out ‘racist bigots’ in Charlottesville.” Her note did not mention Trump. Actions, of course, speak louder than words.

    “Nazis in Charlottesville” by UVA’s Daniel Willingham.

    Via NPR: “Resources For Educators To Use In The Wake Of Charlottesville.”

    “7 Ways Teachers Can Respond to the Evil of Charlottesville, Starting Now” by Xian Franzinger Barrett.

    Tune into the Contrafabulists podcast this weekend, when Kin Lane and I will discuss the response (or lack thereof) from the tech industry, including Cloudflare, Spotify, Squarespace, GoDaddy, Google, the EFF, and others.

    (Other National) Education Politics


    “Transcript of Education Secretary DeVos’ Interview with AP” – via the AP, of course.

    “How Did ‘Copyright Piracy’ Language Get Into ESSA, the K–12 Law?” asks Education Week.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “President Trump Wednesday signed an update of the Post–9/11 GI Bill into law after the bipartisan legislation swiftly made it out of both chambers of Congress.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “In a letter sent today to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, asked for information about the work of senior counsel Robert Eitel to determine if he broke conflict-of-interest laws.” Eitel was an exec at Bridgepoint Education.

    Via Pacific Standard: “The Afterlife of Big Ideas in Education Reform.”

    More about (US) national education politics and policies in the student loan section and for-profit higher ed sections below.

    Meanwhile, in the UK: “Learndirect training contract withdrawn over standards concerns,” the BBC reports. “Learndirect, which offers apprenticeships and adult training at sites across England, is responsible for almost 73,000 trainees and employs more than 1,600 staff.”

    (Other State and Local) Education Politics


    Via The Buffalo News: “Carl Paladino’s polarizing time on [the Buffalo NY] School Board comes to an end.” “Polarizing” is a nice way of putting it, I suppose.

    Via Politico: “Following months of criticism, Eva Moskowitz distances herself from Trump.” Moskowitz is the head of the Success Academy chain of charter schools.

    Via the AP: “A new Tennessee law requiring public school districts to provide student data to charter schools faces its first tests with pushback from districts.”

    Immigration and Education


    “Five Years In, What’s Next For DACA?” asks NPR’s Claudio Sanchez.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Law Professions: ‘No Question’ DACA is Legal.”

    Education in the Courts


    From a press release issued by the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York: “Individual Who Compromised Over 1,000 Email Accounts At A New York City University Pleads Guilty.”

    Via The New York Times: “Another Silicon Valley Start-Up Faces Sexual Harassment Claims.” This time, it’s SoFi, a private student loan provider.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Lawsuits From Students Accused of Sex Assault Cost Many Colleges More Than $200,000.”

    Testing, Testing…


    PARCC Inc, best known as one of the Common Core test-makers, is “moving in a new direction,” Politico reports. The new focus: “classroom tools and services geared toward school districts.”

    The Business of Student Loans


    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is seeking a proposed settlement against Aequitas Capital Management for assisting Corinthian Colleges with providing private loans to its students.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


    The Charlotte School of Law has closed its doors. Story via Inside Higher Ed.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “U.S. Continues to Delay, Soften Gainful-Employment Rules.”

    Via Vice: “Trump’s ‘Forever GI Bill’ won’t stop for-profit schools from preying on vets.”

    Via Bloomberg: “This Coding School Wants Graduates to Share Their Income.” That’s the New York Code and Design Academy, which is owned by Strayer Education.

    App Academy, another bootcamp that uses income-sharing agreements in lieu of tuition, reportedly announced in an email this week that it would move from a percentage of income – 18% of graduates’ first year salary – to a flat fee: $28,000.

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Cumulative Growth in Number of MOOCs, 2011–17.”

    Meanwhile (Elsewhere) on Campus…


    White Nationalists Are The New Face Of Campus Free Speech,” says Buzzfeed.

    Via The New York Times: “After Charlottesville Violence, Colleges Brace for More Clashes.”

    Since the events at UVA last weekend, several universities have declined white nationalists’ requests to hold events on their campuses. These include Michigan State University, University of Florida, Louisiana State University, and Texas A&M.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “When Your Students Attend White Supremacist Rallies.”

    Via the Southern Poverty Law Center: “The Alt-Right On Campus: What Students Need To Know.”

    “Have You Experienced or Witnessed a Hate Crime or Bias Incident?” asks Education Week, which has joined the Documenting Hate project.

    An interactive from Politico: “Symbols of the Confederacy still dot the South.” This includes some 109 public schools named for Confederate icons. “Of these schools, nearly 25 percent have a student body that is primarily black.”

    Via NPR: “Ethnic Studies: A Movement Born Of A Ban.”

    Via NPR: “High-Achieving, Low-Income Students: Where Elite Colleges Are Falling Short.”

    Via Boing Boing: “School to parents: a $100 donation gets your kids to the front of the lunch line.”

    “In some districts, free summer ‘crash courses’ are trying to meet the needs of students who can’t afford to attend traditional pre-K programs,” The Atlantic reports.

    Accreditation and Certification


    Via Education Week: “Records show five more administrators in an Ohio school district could lose their state educator licenses in connection with an investigation that found student data was falsified to improve district performance ratings.”

    Via The Atlantic: “The Onerous, Arbitrary, Unaccountable World of Occupational Licensing.”

    From the HR Department


    Via The Houston Chronicle: “Texas assistant principal reassigned after writing alt-right kids’ book.”

    “The superintendent of one of the nation’s largest online charter schools is retiring amid its court battle with Ohio officials over at least $60 million in disputed funding,” the AP reports. That’s Rick Teeters, head of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow.

    The Business of Job Training


    Via Edsurge: “Nonprofit Bootcamps Want to Make Coding Accessible to Low-Income Learners.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Purdue University unveiled another outside-the-box move Thursday, announcing a five-year deal with one of India’s largest technology outsourcing firms, Infosys, under which the university will perform joint research and provide training and classes for the company’s employees.”

    Via Techcrunch: “UPS is developing virtual reality tech to train its drivers.”

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


    Are pre-K ‘cram courses’ an adequate substitute for full programs?asks Education Dive.

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

    Upgrades and Downgrades


    Me in The Baffler on“How Silicon Valley’s brand of behaviorism has entered the classroom.” Featuring ClassDojo and HeroK12.

    Via Edsurge: “Software Helps Instructors Stop Mangling Hard-to-Pronounce Student Names.”

    Via The New York Times: “Cambridge University Press Removes Academic Articles on Chinese Site.”

    Mindwire Consulting’s Michael Feldstein reports from BbWorld: “Blackboard May Be Turning Around.”

    “What Do We Mean When We Say ‘Social And Emotional Skills’?” asks Mindshift.

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


    Via MIT Technology Review: “Growing Up with Alexa.”

    Via The Atlantic: “The Value of Bringing Drones to the Classroom.”

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform


    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


    Zuoyebang, a tutoring app owned by Baidu, has raised $150 million in Series C funding from H Capital, GGV Capital, Legend Capital, Sequoia Capital, Tiger Global Mauritius Fund, and Xianghe Capital. The subsidiary has raised $210 million total.

    Lightneer has raised $5 million in seed funding from Reach Capital, Brighteye Ventures, GSV Acceleration, and IPR.VC. The educational game-maker has raised $9.04 million total.

    Curriculum maker Activate Learning has acquired curriculum maker IT’S ABOUT TIME.

    Harris School Solutions has acquiredJR3 WebSmart.

    Andrew Ng is raising a $150M AI Fund,” Techcrunch reports.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


    “2017 Data Breaches Hit Half-Year Record High,” says the Identity Theft Resource Center. Breaches in education account for 11% of these.

    “Everything’s Bigger in Texas ... Including (Maybe) the Data Breaches,” says EdTech Strategies’ Doug Levin.

    Via Fox Business: “Texas schools create high-tech ID badges to track students on buses.”

    Edsurge on data interoperability.

    Via GeekWire: “Alexa goes to college: Amazon and Arizona State putting 1,600 Echo Dots in dorm rooms.” What happens to students’ data here?!

    From the Future of Privacy Forum: “Location Controls in iOS 11 Highlight the Role of Platforms.”

    Via Go To Hellman: “PubMed Lets Google Track User Searches.”

    JISC lauds the “intelligent campus,” and I have to say, touting Chinese universities’ surveillance of students is not really such a great model, folks.

    There’s more on information security (or lack thereof) in the courts section above.

    Research, “Research,” and Reports


    “Surprise, Trump’s Education Ideas Are Polarizing,” says NPR’s Anya Kamenetz, reporting on the latest Education Next poll. Support for charter schools, for example, fell by 12% from last year’s survey. (The poll data.) EdTech Strategies’ Doug Levin says that this year’s poll is “much improved.” More on the survey from Inside Higher Ed and from Politico.

    Via Education Week: “Ed-Tech Companies Should Open Algorithms to Scrutiny, Report Suggests.” The report in question– “Asleep at the Switch: Schoolhouse Commercialism, Student Privacy, and the Failure of Policymaking” – comes from the National Education Policy Center.

    “Are Small Colleges Doomed? Not So Fast,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via Crunchbase: “Here Are The Top Schools Among Founders Who Raise Big Dollars.” I’m sure you’ll be shocked to learn that the top school is Stanford.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Colleges With the Highest Average Pay for Full Professors, 2015–16.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The percentage of student loan borrowers leaving college owing $20,000 or more doubled over about a decade, according to a report released Wednesday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “Silicon Valley’s school integration paradox: More black and Hispanic students get to college – and get arrested.”

    Studies Are Usually Bunk, Study Shows,” The Wall Street Journal claims, in an attempt to support the arguments made by fired Google engineer James Damore (and undermine those challenging him).

    Science doesn’t explain tech’s diversity problem – history doesby Sarah Jeong and Rachel Becker.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project


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  • 08/25/17--04:45: Hack Education Weekly News
  • (National) Education Politics


    Via NPR: “In Turkey, Schools Will Stop Teaching Evolution This Fall.”

    More on Betsy DeVos’ investment in Neurocore in the upgrade/downgrade section below. More on immigration and education in the immigration section below.

    (State and Local) Education Politics


    “Daniel Loeb’s Racially Charged Post Could Be Sticking Point for Expansion of Success Academy Charter Schools,” says The Wall Street Journal. Related: a Twitter thread from Leo Casey about the various connections the Success Academy chain has to Trump and his wealth right-wing backers the Mercers.

    Via The San Francisco Chronicle: “Mystery of SF schools’ budget persists as new year starts.” Teachers cannot afford to live in San Francisco, and “23 classrooms lacked teachers six days before the students’ return.”

    Via Maine Public Radio: “ Do Laptops Help Learning? A Look At The Only Statewide School Laptop Program.” That’s the statewide laptop program in Mainethanks Seymour!– that current governor Paul LePage is eager to dismantle.

    “Over 1k student-issued iPads are unaccounted for” in a school system in West Virginia, The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports.

    Immigration and Education


    In the UK, “Theresa May under fire as student visa myth exposed,” The Guardian reports. “New data, published by the Office for National Statistics and based on recently created exit checks at Britain’s borders, showed just 4,600 overstayed their visa last year. Estimates for previous years had been close to 100,000.”

    Via The Nation: “Trump’s Border Security May Search Your Social Media by ‘Tone’.”

    Via Education Week: “Setback for DACA Supporters Places Program’s Fate Squarely in Trump’s Hands.”

    “Trump seriously considering ending DACA,” Axios says.

    More on court cases surrounding immigration in the section below.

    Education in the Courts


    Via The New York Times: “Tucson’s Mexican Studies Program Was a Victim of ‘Racial Animus,’ Judge Says.” More via The LA Times.

    Via The LA Times: “A lawsuit claims a Pasadena principal threatened to set immigration officers on a mother and a caretaker.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The loan servicer tasked with handling federal loan forgiveness programsovercharged borrowers and prevented them from making qualifying payments that would put them on track for loan forgiveness, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey alleged in a lawsuit filed in Suffolk Superior Court Wednesday.” The company in question: FedLoan Servicing. More from Buzzfeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy.

    Via The AP: “A Pittsburgh-area school with a history of racial tension created a culture of verbal abuse and excessive force that allowed resource officers to shock students with stun guns and body-slam them, according to a civil rights lawsuit filed Wednesday.” The school: Woodland Hills High School.

    Testing, Testing…


    “What You Should Know About The New Summer SAT,” according to NPR.

    Via AL.com: “Alabama State Board of Education (SBOE) member Ella Bell wants to know why we can’t force special needs children into an institution in an effort to help improve test scores in Alabama’s public schools.” Um, because of federal law and students’ civil rights?

    Via The New York Times: “Struggling Schools Improve on Test Scores, but Not All Are Safe.”

    The Business of Student Loans


    “You can now buy $400 pants with a subprime loan,” The Outline notes in an article about Affirm, which also offers private student loans (marketed particularly towards those in coding bootcamps).

    More on legal cases involving student loan servers in the courts section above; more on loan forgiveness and for-profits in the for-profit section above; more on student loan companies raising venture capital in the venture capital section below.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


    Via Inside Higher Ed: “As Charlotte School of Law officially announces it will shut down, the Department of Education sets out potential options for former students. Those who withdrew from the troubled program before the spring will face a tougher path to discharging federal student loans.”

    Inside Higher Ed reviewsLaw Mart: Justice, Access and For-Profit Law Schools, a new book on for-profit law schools by University of Illinois Springfield professor Riaz Tejani.

    Via The New York Times: “As Coding Boot Camps Close, the Field Faces a Reality Check.”

    More on bootcamps and EQUIP in the “business of job training” section below.

    Elsewhere on Campus…


    Inside Higher Ed reports on what’s happened to students who attended recent white nationalist / white supremacist rallies. More via Time: “Student Who Attended Charlottesville White Supremacist Rally Leaves Boston University After Backlash.”

    Via The Washington Post: “U-Va. to examine campus response to Charlottesville protests.”

    “Ann Coulter, Milo Yiannopoulos, Stephen Bannon Are Invited to Speak at UC-Berkeley,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

    Penn State has denied white nationalist Richard Spencer’s request to speak on campus.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “How One White Nationalist Became – and Remains – a Thorn in Texas A&M’s Side.”

    The Chronicle of Higher Education is tracking Confederate monuments on college campuses.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Duke University on Saturday announced that it had removed a statue of Robert E. Lee from the entrance to the university chapel. On Sunday night, the University of Texas at Austin announced it would remove statues of Lee and three other Confederate leaders from a prominent campus location. And Bowdoin College on Saturday said that it would take down a plaque honoring Jefferson Davis and college alumni who fought for the Confederacy.” More on the statue at Duke via the university’s newspaper.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “UNC Says It Can’t Legally Remove Confederate Statue, Despite Governor’s Guidance.”

    Via The Telegraph: “Egyptian academic accused of ‘glorifying Satan’ after teaching Milton’s Paradise Lost.” The scholar in question: Dr Mona Prince, a lecturer at Suez University.

    Brandeis University was closed on Wednesday after receiving “emailed threats.”

    University of Cincinnati’s servers crashed on the first day of school, The News Record reports.

    Via The West Australian: “Mobile devices drive student suspensions.”

    Via The Dallas Morning News: “Highland Park ISD parent calls book on poverty ‘socialist, Marxist’.” The book in question, The Working Poor: Invisible in America, is used in an AP English class.

    Accreditation and Certification


    Via NPR: “Some Liberty University Grads Are Returning Their Diplomas To Protest Trump.”

    Seton Hall University announced that it’s now offering a Cybersecurity Certification. It’ll be offered through “New Horizons, a CompTIA Platinum Partner, to custom craft a ‘Boot Camp’ introduction to cybersecurity.” It’s fascinating to see long-time tech training companies like CompTIA rebrand themselves as “bootcamps.”

    Go, School Sports Team!


    Via The Washington Post: “‘The leading edge of a much larger iceberg’: New Jersey high school disbands football team.”

    Via The AP: “A Washington state high school football coach took advantage of his position when he prayed on the field after games, and he’s not entitled to immediately get his job back, a federal appeals court said Wednesday.”

    From the HR Department


    Via The Washington Post: “Graduate students won right to organize as employees, but that victory is in peril under Trump.”

    80% Of America’s Teachers Are White,” Liz Dwyer reminds us, and “ It’s not just students of color who benefit from a diverse teaching force.”

    New York "City Will Move Sidelined Teachers From Limbo to Classrooms," The NYT reports.

    The Business of Job Training


    Inside Higher Ed notes that the new GI Bill signed by President Trump “includes a $75 million program to let military veterans use federal benefits for technology courses through noncollege providers – another potential challenge to traditional higher ed.” That’s $75 million for EQUIP, which “allows a handful of boot camps and online course providers to be eligible for federal financial aid through partnerships with accredited colleges.”

    Via The Eater: “KFC’s New Employee Training Game Is a Virtual Reality Nightmare.”

    The New Stack onCoding in Prison: The Dev Shop at San Quentin.” There’s been a lot of positive press about this program, but little of it asks difficult questions about the use of prison labor. (Instead, it tends to laud the effort simply because it’s coding.) The inmates are paid $16.77 per hour – but that’s not what they actually earn, as the prison takes part of the money to pay for “room and board” among other things.

    Via MIT Technology Review: “The Myth of the Skills Gap.”

    Via Buzzfeed: “17 Alexa Skills That Don’t Need To Exist.”

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


    Can Technology Help Prevent Improper Pell Payments?asks RealClear Education.

    Is the U.S. Education System Ready for CS for All?asks Jennifer Wong in Communication of the ACM.

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

    Upgrades and Downgrades


    Via Education Week: US Secretary of Education Betsy "DeVos Invested in Company Under Investigation for Misleading Claims.“ The company is Neurocore, which the National Advertising Division has formally recommended to ”stop making a wide range of advertising claims and stop promoting many of its user testimonials."

    Edsurge has a puff piece about VIPKID, which announced it had raised a huge amount of money this week: “What’s It Like Tutoring for VIPKID, the Chinese Company That Just Raised $200 Million?” (More details on the funding in the investment section below.) No disclosure in this article that Edsurge shares an investorwith VIPKID. And no critical analysis of race, imperialism, labor, and ed-tech either.

    From the press release: “Amazon Announces TenMarks Writing – New Online Curriculum for Teachers That Combines Rigor and Fun to Unlock the Writer in Every Student.” Rigor and fun! More details from EdWeek’s Market Brief.

    Via Edsurge: “​Open Up Resources Announces First Full Math Curriculum – And Its Plans for Profitability.” Open Up Resources is a non-profit – LOL – whose CEO Larry Singer used to be the managing director for Pearson’s K–12 marketing sales.

    Melinda Gates has an op-ed in The Washington Post: “I spent my career in technology. I wasn’t prepared for its effect on my kids.” One might say that this is deeply ironic; but then again, Melinda Gates and her husband’s push for more technology in schools was never about her kids.

    Edsurge invites readers to “Meet the 5 Education Technology Startups From Y Combinator’s Summer 2017 Class.” These are: Lambda School, Mystery Science, Nimble, Peergrade, and Py. You can tell a lot about what Silicon Valley imagine the future of education to look like – a business, obviously – based on these investments.

    Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill writes about the latest from the LMS provider Instructure, noting “culture as a competitive weapon.”

    Barnes & Noble partners with Target to take on Amazon. Walmart and Google partner to take on Amazon.

    Via Reuters: “LexisNexis, a provider of legal, regulatory and business information, said on Tuesday it had withdrawn two products from the Chinese market in March this year after it was asked to remove some content.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Facing intense criticism for caving to censors, Cambridge University Press restores access to more than 300 journal articles it had blocked in China– but the problem for publishers isn’t going away. Chinese authorities also try to block articles from another journal.”

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


    Via The AP: “Why AI visionary Andrew Ng teaches humans to teach computers.”

    Via Singularity Hub: “Why Education Is the Hardest Sector of the Economy to Automate.” But Singularity Hub does believe it’s possible nonetheless.

    Teaching Robots to Learn Teaches the Students Too,” says Campus Technology.

    “A Future of Genetically Engineered Children Is Closer Than You’d Think,” says Mother Jones. Wheeee.

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform


    Via Bloomberg: Bill "Gates Makes Largest Donation Since 2000 With $5 Billion Gift.“ The ”gift" goes to the Gates Foundation– 64 million Microsoft shares.

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


    VIPKID has raised $200 million in Series D funding from Sequoia Capital, Tencent Holdings, Sinovation Ventures, and YP Capital. The online tutoring company has raised $325 million total.

    Prodigy Finance has raised $40 million in Series C funding from Index Ventures, AlphaCode Club, and Balderton Capital. The student loan provider has raised $52.5 million total.

    School Speciality has acquiredTriumph Learning.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


    Via the BBC: “Sensor tracks who is driving in your neighbourhood.” This nifty example of racist technology comes from Flock and is backed by Y Combinator.

    Via Business Insider: “People are paying $80,000 for ‘family architects’ to fix their kids through 24/7 surveillance.”

    Via The Verge: “Transgender YouTubers had their videos grabbed to train facial recognition software.”

    Research, “Research,” and Reports


    Via Pacific Standard: “A New Report Finds Higher Education Funding Is Still Not Back to Pre-Recession Levels.”

    “What If Students Have More Confidence in Growth Mindsets Than Their Teachers?” asks Jack McDermott, marketing director for Panorama Education in Edsurge. (Edsurge and Panorama Education share several investors, although there’s no disclosure of that in this article.)

    Via Education Week: “Closing Failing Schools Doesn’t Help Most Students, Study Finds.”

    Oldest Kids In Class Do Better, Even Through College,” says NPR. I was always the youngest. Go me.

    Via Education Dive: “Cultivating emotional resilience in teachers improves the classroom for all.”

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “The Private School Market Is Overwhelmingly a Small-School Market.”

    Via EDUCAUSE: “Trend Watch 2017: Which IT Trends Is Higher Education Responding To?”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Study finds that technology spending spurs gains in colleges’ outputs – but they vary depending on the institution.”

    According to “market research,” “VR, AR, 3D Printing and Data Analytics Overtake Visual Tech Market in Education,” Campus Technology predicts.

    AR and VR poised to climb out of the ‘trough of dillusionment’ on Gartner Hype Cycle,” Boing Boing predicts.

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Education Procurement Hits Two-Year High in 2nd Quarter of 2017.”

    Via The New York Times: “Even With Affirmative Action, Blacks and Hispanics Are More Underrepresented at Top Colleges Than 35 Years Ago.”

    “According to the National Retail Federation, 60% of the $29.5 billion spent on back-to-school shopping nationwide will be spent on electronics,” says Education Dive rewriting a press release rewritten by Ed-Tech Magazine.

    It’s time for my least favorite “back-to-school” ritual: Beloit College’s “mind-set list.”

    Icon credits: The Noun Project


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  • 09/01/17--04:00: Hack Education Weekly News
  • (National) Education Politics


    Via The Huffington Post: “White House Quietly Removes Sexual Assault Report From Website.”

    Via Politico: “Trump and DeVos fuel a for-profit college comeback.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “For-Profit Colleges Find Few Reasons to Lobby a Friendlier Education Dept.”

    The Department of Education has selected Julian Schmoke, a former administrator at the for-profit DeVry University, to lead the its student-aid enforcement unit. (Just last year, Devry agreed to a $100 million settlement with the FTC for misleading students through deceptive advertising.) Via The Atlantic: “What a New Trump Administration Hire Could Mean for For-Profit Colleges.” “Education Dept. Appointee’s For-Profit Past Draws Flak, but It’s Complicated,” The Chronicle of Higher Education says. More from Pacific Standard and from Inside Higher Ed.

    More on Candice Jackson’s resume in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    (State and Local) Education Politics


    On Hurricane Harvey: Dana Goldstein in The New York Times: “School Closings From Harvey Threaten Disruption Across Texas.” Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Colleges Announce Closings as Harvey Pounds Texas Coast.”

    Via Edsurge: “​A Fight for Internet Access Is Brewing in Alaska.”

    Via Bookriot: “On Wednesday, August 23, the city council of Escondido, California voted, 3 to 2, to move forward with plans to hand their public library over to the private, for-profit company Library Systems and Services.”

    Immigration and Education


    Via The Guardian: “Trump order could give immigration agents a foothold in US schools.”

    Edsurge profiles the tuition-free online university University of the People, claiming it has a particular appeal to undocumented immigrants and refugees.

    Education in the Courts


    Via CNN: “The famed science enthusiast filed suit against Disney (DIS) on Thursday, claiming the media giant hoodwinked him out of more than $9 million in earnings from ‘Bill Nye the Science Guy.’”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Umair Hamid has been sentenced to 21 months in prison and was ordered to forfeit about $5.3 million for his role in an international diploma mill scheme operated by the Pakistani company Axact, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.”

    Via The New York Times: “Three Chinese Women Reach U.S. Plea Deals Over College Exam Scam.” The exam: TOEFL.

    Testing, Testing…


    Via The LA Times: “California’s standardized test score results delayed indefinitely due to ‘data issue’.”

    More on testing (and fraud) in the courts section above.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


    Via Inside Higher Ed: “For-profit Charlotte School of Law and its parent company, InfiLaw, were under criminal investigation as they sought to negotiate restoration of federal student aid for Charlotte students, according to recently unsealed court filings from a whistle-blower lawsuit filed against the school.”

    Via The Charlotte Observer: “Under DeVos, who’s the next Charlotte School of Law?”

    “An insider’s take on the future of coding bootcampsby Darrell Silver.

    More on for-profit higher ed and its infiltration of the Trump Administration in the national politics section above. More on layoffs at coding bootcamps in the HR section below. And more on bootcamp research in the research section below.

    Meanwhile on Campus…


    Via Politico: “My Weekend at the Falwells’ South Beach Flophouse.” Inside Higher Ed has a response from Liberty University.

    And speaking of Liberty University, Anthony Scaramucci will be speaking at the school’s convocation.

    Via Education Week: “Facebook Giving Virtual-Reality Kits to Every Arkansas High School.”

    Boston University and Wheelock College enter talks to combine the institutions,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Go, School Sports Team!


    Via The New York Times: “Videos of Girls Forced to Do Splits at Cheer Camp Lead to Coach’s Firing.”

    From the HR Department


    Via Techcrunch: “In the newest sign of a shakeout in coding boot camps, Galvanize is laying off 11 percent of staffers.”

    The Business of Job Training


    “So, What IS the Future of Work?” asks Edsurge as it covers a symposium at Stanford University. Surely an elite private university MUST hold the answer! (No disclosure in this post when it mentions its investor Deborah Quazzo.)

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


    Can Banning Phones in School Curb Cyberbullying?asks Education Week.

    Can This MIT Student Entrepreneurship Program Bridge the Israeli-Palestinian Divide?asks Edsurge.

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

    Upgrades and Downgrades


    The New York Times broke the news this week that New America ousted its Open Markets team after it praised a recent EU fine against Google: “Google Critic Ousted From Think Tank Funded by the Tech Giant.” New America has received more than $21 million from Google. “ We Said Google Was Dangerously Powerful, Then Google Proved Us Right,” writes Open Markets’ Matt Stoller in Buzzfeed. “ Google is coming after critics in academia and journalism. It’s time to stop them,” writes Zephyr Teachout in The Washington Post. She also has a piece in The Intercept: “How I Got Fired From a D.C. Think Tank for Fighting Against the Power of Google.” “Yes, Google Uses Its Power to Quash Ideas It Doesn’t Like – I Know Because It Happened to Me,” writes Kashmir Hill in Gizmodo. Google’s power and influence has immense implications for the future of “information” and scholarship, and if you think education (and education technology) is immune from this sort of influence, you are really not paying attention. Google gives money to many, many education organizations, including CoSN, Khan Academy, and the ALA.

    “Please let The Friendship Code and its tech-savvy girls be the new Baby-Sitters Club,” writes Techcrunch’s Devin Coldewey, although he admits he has never read any of The Baby-Sitters Club books.

    Via The AP: “Learning software in classrooms earns praise, causes debate.”

    Via Pacific Standard: “Pepe the Frog Creator Shuts Down Publication of Alt-Right Children’s Book.”

    Via Techcrunch: “Amazon adds parental consent to Alexa skills aimed at children, launches first legal kids’ skills.”

    Edsurge looks at the latest from Kahoot– “Kahoot Studio, a curated library of ready-to-play kahoot games for K–12 educators and their students” – and notes that the company, which has raised $26.5 million in venture capital is “ramping up for revenue.”

    Edsurge looks at the latest from the messaging app Remind: “Remind’s Race to Conquer the K–12 Communications Market – and Make Money.”

    Skidos offers an SDK to turn mobile games into ‘learning apps’,” says Techcrunch, really underscoring how Silicon Valley believes anything can be easily turned into “ed-tech.”

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


    Via The New York Times: “The Secret to a Good Robot Teacher.”

    Via Campus Technology: “AI Chatbot Hubert Talks to Students to Collect Course Feedback.”

    Via Education Dive: “AI, analytics transforming guidance counselors’ roles.”

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform


    Via Techcrunch: “Black Girls Code says it turned down $125,000 from Uber.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


    BYJU’s has raised $40 million from Tencent Holdings. The test prep company has raised $244 million total.

    The English language learning company Magic Ears has raised $6 million in venture funding from Bob Xu ZhenEdu Fund and Yuanfudao.

    The game-based learning company Sumdog has raised $1.8 million from Nesta Impact Investments and the Scottish Investment Bank.

    Flipd has raised an undisclosed amount of money from Ryerson Futures Inc and Candice Faktor. The company, which allows teachers to reminds students turn off their phone in class, also lets them “see data that measures when students used their phones, and give incentives or rewards to the ones who stayed attentive” – which all sounds pretty terrible.

    The Advisory Board Company has sold off its education business, EAB, to Vista Equity Partners. (The private equity firm acquired PowerSchool in 2015.)

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


    Via Ladders: “New app scans your face and tells companies whether you’re worth hiring.” The app is from HireVue, which boasts many schools and universities as clients.

    Via In The Black: “Curtin University has teamed with Hitachi Data Systems to create a ‘data-gathering laboratory’ that it hopes will improve the student experience.” 1600 cameras. Facial recognition software. “Except where specific consent is given, data collected is not linked to an individual,” the article reads – except that it also says facial recognition software is used to take attendance, so obviously students are compelled to hand over their personal data.

    Via Find Biometrics: “Singapore Schools to Connect Student Accounts to Fingerprints.”

    Via Edsurge: “Amazon Pushes Echo Smart Speakers on Campus.”

    Muckrock is investigatinghow schools monitor students’ online behavior.

    Via Naked Security: “Are you a student? Your personal data is there for the asking.”

    Via the EFF: “Student Privacy Tips for Teachers.” Also via the EFF: “Student Privacy Tips for Students.”

    Via The Conversation: “The rise in personalised story books and what it means for children’s privacy.”

    Via The Edmonton Journal: “MacEwan University loses $11.8 million to scammers in phishing attack.”

    Research, “Research,” and Reports


    Via New America: “Varying Degrees.” More on the report from Bryan Alexander. (And more about New America in the upgrades/downgrades section above.)

    Via Techcrunch: “Tech industry and comp-sci majors are highest earners, says LinkedIn job survey.” Highest earners among those who completed the survey, of course.

    Via The Digital Reader: “Why Textbook Publishers Are Running Scared: Survey Shows College Textbook Spending Dropped 17% Since 2007.”

    Via Campus Technology: “Student loan debt in the United States has grown 149 percent over the last decade to reach $1.4 trillion, according to a new report from Experian.”

    A report from Ithaka S+R: “Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity: Members of the Association of Research Libraries.”

    [Via The NYT](The Biggest Misconception About Today’s College Students): “The Biggest Misconception About Today’s College Students.”

    The latest K–12 Horizon Report (and my response).

    Via Campus Technology: “Wearables generated $30.5 billion this year, with smartwatches raking in roughly a third of total sales, according to a new Gartner forecast.”

    “So-called ‘coding boot camps’ are often pitched as an alternative to four-year degree programs. Yet new research suggests this is more often not the case and that such boot camp programs are increasingly acting as an auxiliary to college degrees,” write James Bowring, Louise Ann Lyon and Quinn Burke in Inside Higher Ed.

    “What I Learned From Researching Coding Bootcampsby Kyle Thayer.

    The 2017 Phi Delta Kappa International (PDK) Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools (and responses from NEA).

    Stirling University’s Ben Williamson on ClassDojo: “Fast psycho-policy & the datafication of social-emotional learning.”

    Via The Daily Beast: “Peter Thiel Funds ‘Unethical’ Offshore Herpes Vaccine Trial.” Aren’t you thrilled that venture capitalists want to experiment on education too?

    Icon credits: The Noun Project


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    The Evergreen School District in Washington has told its teachers to stop using Donors Choose to raise money for classroom supplies and projects. According to KATU2, “The Washington State Auditor’s Office advised the district that a policy needs to be put in place to ensure that the money is properly handled, and that the items are designated as district property and put in the district inventory.”

    Peter Greene argues that this new policy is about control – who gets to decide what is purchased for a classroom or school. One might pick up on an unspoken message in the decree too: teachers can’t be fully trusted to make procurement decisions. The district already has a system in place to do buy things, one that supposedly checks to make sure that purchases are necessary or “appropriate,” that (tax) dollars are spent wisely, and that no ethical or legal issues arise.

    But does the district procurement process work? (Not just in this district. Anywhere.) For whom does it work? For whom does it not?

    Of course, crowdfunding sites like Donors Choose (which boasts it’s helped raise some $571 million for school projects) are just one way that educators stock their classrooms with items that district budgets don’t (or won’t or can’t) pay for. Teachers spend a fair amount of money out their own pockets to this end as well – about $470 on average, often for basic office and classroom supplies. And this occurs alongside the burden of buying classroom supplies that falls on families too – there are reports this fall that the price tag for many back-to-school lists runs from $650 (for an elementary school student) to $1500 (for a high school student). That’s a lot of money for anyone, but particularly for the over half of US public school students who are eligible for the federal free and reduced lunch program, a proxy for living in poverty.

    School supplies, whether paid for by taxpayers, teachers, or parents, are an equity issue. And adding technology to the shopping list might just make things worse – and not simply because these products can be expensive.

    This weekend, New York Times reporter Natasha Singer published the latest article in her series on “Education Disrupted”: “Silicon Valley Courts Brand-Name Teachers, Raising Ethics Issues.” The story follows two teachers – Nicholas Provenzano from Gross Pointe South High School in Michigan and Kayla Delzer from Mapleton Elementary School in North Dakota – who have leveraged their social media followings to become high profile “influencers” in education technology, receiving new products for their classroom (for “free” and outside the district procurement process) in exchange for promoting them to other teachers in turn.

    None of this is entirely new– some teachers have always sought to bring supplemental materials into the classroom at their own initiative and risk, particularly when it comes to technology (computing and otherwise). But this latest version of the “entrepreneurial teacher” as described in The New York Times is deeply intertwined with Silicon Valley’s version of “the hustle”; it’s one that demands that teachers take on a second shift (a 24–7 shift even) on technology platforms in order to build their own brands; and it’s one that reinforces the notion that it should be the responsibility of individual teachers to identify, buy, and promote technology, often justified by insisting they’re “doing the best they can” for their students. (Success in raising money on Donors Choose, for example, can depend to a great extent on a teacher’s ability to leverage her or his social media presence to spread word of the crowdfunding campaign.) This acclamation of the individual education “innovator” or entrepreneur and dismissal of a collective responsibility dovetails with talk of the failure of public institutions, as well as with another popular corporate narrative: “the procurement system is broken,” as ed-tech startups are wont to say. But again, broken how and broken for whom?

    "I am in this profession for kids," these celebrity educators insist, not for money or fame. But altruism is not the same as justice.

    “My kids have access to awesome things that, as a district, we could never afford,” teacher Nick Provenzano tells The NYT in justifying his relationship with a 3D printer company. The article takes that assertion at face value; many readers probably did too. Again, we all know that school budgets are tight. But “tight” is relative; budgets are relative. And Provenzano’s school is quite affluent. Just 7% of the students at Provenzano’s school qualify for the free and reduced lunch program – the state-wide average in Michigan is 38%, and 74% of students in the neighboring Detroit Public Schools qualify. Provenzano worries his English lit students won’t have a 3D printer; teachers (and parents) just 8 miles away in Detroit still have to worry about the lead in the city’s drinking water.

    Inequality is rampant throughout public education in the United States (and yes, throughout the United States itself), and inequality affects not just how much money is allocated per student – funding is typically tied to property taxes – or how much teachers and families can afford and expect to spend in order to to supplement that. These inequalities affect what sorts of education technology appears in the classroom and how these products are used. Some students get 3D printers; some students get digital drill-and-kill. Some students get colorful beanbags to sit in; some students have to walk through metal detectors.

    Educational inequalities are historical and they are structural and they are dependent on class and race and geography. 86% of the students at Provenzano’s school are white; 80% of those at Kayla Delzer’s, the other teacher in The NYT story, are white (which is, in fairness, a reflection of the overwhelmingly whiteness of North Dakota). This stands in stark contrast to the percentage of students enrolled in public schools across the entire US who are white: less than 50%. The student-teacher ratio at Delzer’s schools is 8 to 1; it’s significantly higher– no surprise – in classrooms in Detroit, which makes it difficult to imagine how a teacher could adopt the “flexible seating” options that Delzer promotes with her social media profile.

    Neither Delzer nor Provenzano’s classrooms are representative of K–12 public schools; and yet these educators have been granted a sort of “celebrity” and speak widely – with corporate backing, as The New York Times underscores – about the future of education technology. But if their students aren’t representative of the make-up of the US student body, these two teachers both are representative of the K–12 teaching population: 82% of those who teach in public schools are white. Almost without exception, “ed-tech celebrities” are too. Furthermore, these high-profile tech-using educators teach (or once taught) in affluent schools where their students are predominantly white.

    As such, we should ask what it means when these people are selected by ed-tech companies to “brand ambassadors”? What does it reveal about how these companies imagine teaching and learning? What does it say about how these companies view “influence” and decision-making power in public schools? (Indeed, several startups and organizations have identified the procurement process itself as a business opportunity, selling consulting services to schools and districts and recommending which technology products they should buy. Who will control this process?) How are our imaginations about the future of education and education technology shaped by the narratives we see promoted by these companies and by the ambassadors they’ve chosen to speak for them? What ends up on back-to-school lists and Donors Choose lists and district procurement lists because of these narratives?

    Much of the response to The NYT article has focused on ethics: should teachers be profiting from their leveraging their profiles and positions in the classroom? Is there sufficient transparency? What rights do students have in these settings where their teachers are “brand ambassadors”? It’s their experiences and their data and their images, after all, that are being utilized for marketing and product development. These are crucial issues to address, particularly as ed-tech demands schools model themselves on the values of corporations and consumption.

    But the questions the article raises go well beyond the ethics of marketing and pay-for-play. Education technology and its influencers must be viewed through the lens of social justice – and in the loud protestations I’ve seen on Twitter defending the practices in the story, that certainly is not happening – otherwise we will continue to ignore how ed-tech serves to exacerbate inequality and re-inscribe whiteness, affluence, and the conspicuous consumption of gadgetry as signs of “innovation.”


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  • 09/08/17--03:30: Hack Education Weekly News
  • (National) Education Politics


    “Americans Have Given Up on Public Schools. That’s a Mistake,” writes Erika Christakis in The Atlantic.

    One of the most important stories this past week was the Trump Administration’s announcement that it planned to end the DACA program, putting the immigration status and safety of some 800,000 people into question. There’s much more on that in the immigration section below.

    Buzzfeed reported that– as of 9pm Thursday at least – “Betsy DeVos Still Hasn’t Said Anything About Trump’s Decision To End DACA.” (Do remember, she weighed in immediately after Trump announced the US was leaving the Paris Climate Accord.) Later, via CBS: “DeVos says her ‘heart is with’ Dreamers.”

    Another huge (and awful) deal: Betsy DeVos announced this week that the Department of Education would replace Obama-era guidance on how colleges must protect students from sexual violence and respond to sexual assault claims on campus. The Department of Education offers“Highlights from Secretary DeVos’ Remarks on Title IX Enforcement.” More from Inside Higher Ed, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and The New York Times.

    “The Department of Justice Is Overseeing the Resegregation of American Schools,” The Nation argues.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Education Dept. Ends Partnership With CFPB.”

    Via Education Week: “Senate Panel Rejects Trump Teacher-Funding Cut, School Choice Proposals.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The White House said Friday it would delay an annual conference for historically black colleges and universities that had been scheduled for mid-September.”

    Via Ars Technica: “Senate Democrats fight FCC plan to lower America’s broadband standards.”

    (State and Local) Education Politics


    Via The New York Times: “Michigan Gambled on Charter Schools. Its Children Lost.”

    And The New York Times again: “The Resegregation of Jefferson County.”

    Also via The New York Times: “New York City Offers Free Lunch for All Public School Students.”

    Related on school lunch, via Mother Jones: “The Shocking Ways Poor Kids Have Long Been Singled Out in American Schools.”

    Via the Tennessean: “Nashville school district sends families opt-out form as student data battle with state rages on.” The districts are protesting a new law that dictates they hand over student directory data to charter school operators.

    Via Boing Boing: “British Columbia government forces Vancouver dad to end his kids’ free-range city bus rides to school.”

    Via Education Week: “Idaho has repaid the Federal Communications Commission $3.5 million to cover federal funds that went to the botched statewide school broadband contract.”

    Via KATU2: “Evergreen School District teachers told to stop using crowdfunding site Donors Choose.”

    Immigration and Education


    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Trump administration announced Tuesday that it will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, through which about 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children have gained the right to work and temporary protection against the risk of deportation. The administration said it will phase out the program, which was established by President Obama in 2012, after a six-month period to give Congress a chance to act on legislation that could restore the program.” More on the announcement from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    “Why ending DACA is so unprecedented,” Dara Lind writes for Vox.

    “By ending Daca, Donald Trump has declared war on a diverse America,” by Carol Anderson (author of White Rage).

    Via The Daily Beast: “The Trump Administration Now Has Tons Of DACA Data And Is Poised To Weaponize It.”

    Via Pacific Standard: “How DACA Helped Immigrants Get More Education and Higher-Paying Jobs.”

    Via Buzzfeed: “American Colleges Say They’ll Fight For DREAMers After Trump’s Decision.”

    Via The New York Times: “For Teachers Working Through DACA, a Bittersweet Start to the School Year.”

    More data on enrollment of foreign students in US colleges in the research section below.

    Education in the Courts


    Via The Hill: “Lawsuit filed to let Richard Spencer speak at Michigan State.”

    Via Ars Technica: “Comcast sues Vermont to avoid building 550 miles of new cable lines.”

    The Business of Student Loans


    Via the US News & World Report: “ Why Few Borrowers Have Pursued PSLF.” The acronym stands for “public service loan forgiveness.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


    Via Media Matters: “Newt Gingrich used Fox position to push for-profit colleges without disclosing conflict of interest.”

    There’s more research on for-profits in the research section below.

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “That Hilarious Tweet About an Instructor’s Big Mistake? Almost Certainly Fake.” The tweet claimed an instructor didn’t realize a class was online and was angry that no students had shown up in class.

    The University of Naples Federico II has joinededX.

    Edsurge wonders if there’s inequality in online education.

    Via Tony Bates: “Responses to the Canadian survey of online and distance learning.”

    There’s more on the accreditation of Arkansas’ new public online university in the accreditation section below.

    Meanwhile on Campus…


    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Florida’s Governor Closes Public Colleges as Irma Bears Down on Peninsula.”

    Melinda Anderson talks toBeverly Daniel Tatum about the 20th anniversary of her book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race.

    Via The Hechinger Report: “How slavery helped build many U.S. colleges and universities.”

    Via the BBC: “Oxford vice-chancellor criticised over homosexuality comments.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “After All but Closing, Sweet Briar Will Shift Curriculum and Pricing.”

    Inside Higher Ed looks at a change this year to Harvard’s CS50, which last year had encouraged students to watch video lectures instead of coming to class. This year: “come to class,” the instructor says.

    Accreditation and Certification


    Salesforce has filed a patent for “Digital badging for facilitating virtual recognition of an achievement.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Arkansas’s new public online university chooses national accreditor over its regional agency, raising questions about pace, prestige and the state of quality assurance.” The school, eVersity, will seek approval from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, an organization that accredits mostly for-profit institutions, rather than the Higher Learning Commission, which accredits the rest of public higher ed in Arkansas.

    Purdue Introduced 3 Year Degree Program,” says Inside Higher Ed.

    Degreed now offers skill certification– “The Degreed Skill Certification is a scientifically-backed process that combines skill evidence, data science, endorsers, and reviews by an expertise panel, which results in your final Skill Level ranking.”

    Testing, Testing…


    Via The New York Times: “Who Benefits From the Expansion of A.P. Classes?”

    Via Mashable: “Why Denver Public School Students Are Protesting for AP History.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “This Saturday’s ACT has been called off at some international testing centers. An ACT spokesman said that the action was ‘due to a verified breach of the test materials,’ and that ACT would not be commenting further on the breach.”

    Also via IHE: “ACT scores are up this year, but the scores of black and Latino students and those who did not complete recommended college preparatory courses remain far behind those of other students.”

    Via Education Week: “New Tool Alerts Teachers When Students Give Up on Tests.”

    “Innovation schools saw some of the largest gains on ISTEP in Indianapolis Public Schools,” Chalkbeat argues.

    Go, School Sports Team!


    Via The New York Times: “Football Favoritism at F.S.U.: The Price One Teacher Paid.”

    “Universities see opportunity in e-sports,” says Education Dive.

    The Business of Job Training


    Via Quartz: “A free, teacher-less university in France is schooling thousands of future-proof programmers.”

    Via Rutgers Today: “Is There a STEM Worker Shortage? Rutgers Professor Debates Issue at National Academies.”

    Google announces it is “Funding 75,000 Udacity scholarships to bridge the digital skills gap.”

    Sound the made-up-statistic klaxon because the MIT Technology Review parrots the BS claim that “65 percent of children entering primary school today will end up working in jobs that don’t currently exist, underscoring the need for new skills training using hands-on and exploratory learning techniques.”

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


    “XQ is taking over TV to make the case that high school hasn't changed in 100 years. But is that true?asks Chalkbeat.

    Will the Trump Era Transform the School Lunch?asks The New York Times.

    Will a Netflix Model Work for Textbooks?asks Edsurge.

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

    Upgrades and Downgrades


    Natasha Singer shook things up with a story in The New York Times this past weekend on the ethics of “brand ambassadors” and influencer marketing in ed-tech. My response: “Inequality, ‘Brand Ambassadors,’ and the Business of Selling (to) Classrooms.”

    Via Edsurge: “Forget ‘US News’ Rankings. For Online College Programs, Google Is Kingmaker.”

    Tonight there’ll be a live TV show on the four major networks – “XQ: The Super School Project.” It’s sponsored by Laurene Powell Jobs, the founder of the venture philanthropy firm Emerson Collective and the widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs. It’s part of the argument that investors and entrepreneurs like to make: that high school hasn’t changed in hundreds of years.In The Washington Post, Jack Schneider writes about “The false narrative behind a glitzy live television show about school reform.”

    Quartz is publishing a series on “The Vanishing University.” The first article claims that “The college lecture is dying. Good riddance.” It’s full of examples of lecturing, but now that they’re recorded as videos somehow it’s innovation.

    “Why Picking a Major Is a Bad Idea for College Kids,” Cathy Davidson argues. She’s out with a new book, The New Education: How To Revolutionize the University To Prepare Students for a World in Flux.

    “Student Teachers Get ‘Real World’ Practice Via Virtual Reality,” says Education Week, apparently confused because VR is very much not “real.”

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


    Parla.ai– “No need to spend money on teachers – I’ll help you learn English effectively and for free!”

    Investor Tom Vander Ark talks to investor Michael Moe about the future of AI and HR.

    “This Machine Learning-Powered Software Teaches Kids To Be Better Writers,” Fast Company claims. No, actually. I bet it doesn’t.

    Automation-proofing students requires more of schools, districts,” says Education Dive.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “IBM and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced Thursday that the company will spend $240 million on a joint lab with MIT focused on artificial intelligence.”

    From the Udacity blog: “ Your Exclusive Guide To Pursuing A Robotics Career.” Exclusive!

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform


    The Koch Brothers are teaming up with Deion Sanders to launch an anti-poverty initiative. Sanders is the founder of a charter school company that, in the words of the Dallas Morning News, “collapsed spectacularly.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


    Guild Education has raised $21 million in Series B funding from Bessemer Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Harrison Metal, Social Capital, and Cowboy Ventures. The company, which helps corporations run education programs for their employees, has raised $31.5 million total.

    Labster has raised $10 million in Series A funding from Balderton Capital, David Helgason, and Northzone. The company offers “virtual science labs” and has raised $13.67 million.

    Evertrue has raised $6 million in Series B funding from Bain Capital Ventures and University Ventures. The company, which helps schools manage philanthropic giving campaigns, has raised $20.57 million total.

    Classcraft, which says it helps “gamify” the classroom, has raised $2.8 million in venture funding from Whitecap Venture Partners, Brightspark Ventures, and MaRS Catalyst Fund.

    English language learning app Kings Learning has raised $2.5 million in seed funding from Village Capital and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation.

    Tenka Labs has raised $2 million in seed funding from undisclosed investors. The company, which makes engineering kits, has raised $4.1 million total.

    Circuit Cubes has raised $2 million from undisclosed investors.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


    Via The Washington Post: “Parents cite student privacy concerns with popular online education platform.” Not sure how popular Facebook and Summit Public Schools’ “personalized learning” platform is, for what it’s worth.

    Research, “Research,” and Reports


    Via the Institute for Women’s Policy Research: “Single Mothers are 3 Times More Likely to Enroll in For-Profit Colleges than Single Students without Children.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Study finds that students who deliver microaggressions are also likely to harbor racist attitudes.”

    Daniel Willingham on learning styles.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Amid concerns about visas and the political environment, some institutions are maintaining or even increasing their enrollment numbers, but many report drops, some by as much as 30 to 50 percent for new students.”

    Via the Pew Research Center: “Most Americans – especially Millennials– say libraries can help them find reliable, trustworthy information.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A new University of New Hampshire study has identified how deeply sexual assault can affect students’ academics.”

    Via Campus Technology: “2.1 million augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality headsets shipped in the second quarter of 2017, a 25.5 percent increase compared to the same period of 2016, according to a new report from International Data Corp. (IDC).”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Many college students are stressed about finances– but none more so than American students, according to the results of a new report by Sodexo.”

    Adaptive learning spending balloons to $41M since 2013,” Education Dive claims.

    The latest on venture capital and education from me: “The Business of Ed-Tech: August 2017 Funding Data.”

    Via The New York Times: “Education by the Numbers.”

    Icon credits: The Noun Project


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    This talk was delivered at MIT for Justin Reich’s Comparative Media Studies class “Learning, Media, and Technology.” The full slide deck is available here.

    Thank you for inviting me to speak to your class today. I’m really honored to be here at the beginning of the semester, as I’m not-so-secretly hoping this gives me a great deal of power and influence to sow some seeds of skepticism about the promises you all often hear – perhaps not in this class, to be fair, as in your other classes, in the media, in the world at large – about education technology.

    Those promises can be pretty amazing, no doubt: that schools haven’t changed in hundreds if not thousands of years and that education technology is now poised to “revolutionize” and “disrupt”; that today, thanks to the ubiquity of computers and the Internet (that there is“ubiquity” is rarely interrogated) we can “democratize,” “unbundle,” and/or “streamline” the system; that learning will as a result be better, cheaper, faster.

    Those have always been the promises. Promises largely unfulfilled.

    It’s important – crucial even – that this class is starting with history. I’ve long argued that ignorance of this history is part of the problem with education technology today: that its promises of revolution and innovation come with little to no understanding of the past – not just the history of what technologies have been adopted (or have failed to be adopted) in the classroom before, but the history of how education itself has changed in many ways and in some, quite dramatically, with or without technological interventions. (I’d add too that this is a problem with tech more broadly – an astounding and even self-congratulatory ignorance of the history of the industries, institutions, practices folks claim they’re disrupting.)

    I should confess something here at the outset of my talk that’s perhaps a bit blasphemous. I recognize that this class is called “Learning, Media, and Technology.” But I’m really not interested in “learning” per se. There are lots of folks – your professor, for starters – who investigate technology and learning, who research technology’s effect on cognition and memory, who measure and monitor how mental processes respond to tech, and so on. That’s not what I do. That’s not what my work is about.

    It’s not that I believe “learning” doesn’t matter. And it’s not that I think “learning” doesn’t happen when using a lot of the ed-tech that gets hyped – or wait, maybe I do think that.

    Rather, I approach “learning” as a scholar of culture, of society. I see “learning” as a highly contested concept – a lot more contested than some researchers and academic disciplines (and entrepreneurs and journalists and politicians) might have you believe. What we know about knowing is not settled. It never has been. And neither neuroscience nor brain scans, for example, move us any closer to that. After all, “learning” isn’t simply about an individual’s brain or even body. “Learning” – or maybe more accurately “learnedness” – is a signal; it’s a symbol; it’s a performance. As such, it’s judged by and through and with all sorts of cultural values and expectations, not only those that we claim to be able to measure. What do you know? How do you know? Who do you know? Do you have the social capital and authority to wield what you know or to claim expertise?

    My work looks at the broader socio-political and socio-cultural aspects of ed-tech. I want us to recognize ed-tech as ideological, as a site of contested values rather than a tool that somehow “progress” demands. Indeed, that’s ideology at work right there – the idea of “progress” itself, a belief in a linear improvement, one that’s intertwined with stories of scientific and technological advancement as well as the advancement of certain enlightenment values.

    I’m interested not so much in how ed-tech (and tech more broadly) might change cognition or learning, but in how it will change culture and power and knowledge – systems and practices of knowing. I’m interested in how ed-tech (and tech more broadly) will change how we imagine education – as a process, as a practice, as an institution – and change how we value knowledge and expertise and even school itself.

    I don’t believe we live in a world in which technology is changing faster than it’s ever changed before. I don’t believe we live in a world where people adopt new technologies more rapidly than they’ve done so in the past. (That is argument for another talk, for another time.) But I do believe we live in an age where technology companies are some of the most powerful corporations in the world, where they are a major influence – and not necessarily in a positive way – on democracy and democratic institutions. (School is one of those institutions. Ideally.) These companies, along with the PR that supports them, sell us products for the future and just as importantly weave stories about the future.

    These products and stories are, to borrow a phrase from sociologist Neil Selwyn, “ideologically-freighted.” In particular, Selwyn argues that education technologies (and again, computing technologies more broadly) are entwined with the ideologies of libertarianism, neoliberalism, and new forms of capitalism – all part of what I often refer to as the “Silicon Valley narrative” (although that phrase, geographically, probably lets you folks here at MIT off the hook for your institutional and ideological complicity in all this). Collaboration. Personalization. Problem-solving. STEM. Self-directed learning. The “maker movement.” These are all examples of how ideologies are embedded in ed-tech trends and technologies – in their development and their marketing. And despite all the talk of “disruption”, these mightn’t be counter-hegemonic at all, but rather serve the dominant ideology and further one of the 21st century’s dominant industries.

    I want to talk a little bit today about technology and education technology in the 20th century – because like I said, history matters. And one of the ideological “isms” that I think we sometimes overlook in computing technologies is militarism. And I don’t just mean the role of Alan Turing and codebreakers in World War II or the role of the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency in the development of the Internet (although both of those examples – cryptography and the Internet – do underscore what I mean when I say infrastructure is ideological). C3I – command, control, communications, and intelligence. Militarism, as an ideology, privileges hierarchy, obedience, compliance, authoritarianism – it has shaped how our schools are structured; it shapes how our technologies are designed.

    The US military is the largest military in the world. That also makes it one of the largest educational organizations in the world – “learning at scale,” to borrow a phrase from this course. The military is responsible for training – basic training and ongoing training – of some 1.2 million active duty soldiers and some 800,000 reserve soldiers. That training has always been technological, because soldiers have had to learn to use a variety of machines. The military has also led the development and adoption of educational technologies.

    Take the flight simulator, for example.

    One of the earliest flight simulators – and yes, this predates the Microsoft software program by over fifty years, but postdates the Wright Brothers by only about twenty – was developed by Edwin Link. He received the patent for his device in 1931, a machine that replicated the cockpit and its instruments. The trainer would pitch and roll and dive and climb, powered by a motor and organ bellows. (Link’s family owned an organ factory.)

    Although Link’s first customers were amusement parks – the patent was titled a “Combination training device for student aviators and entertainment apparatus” – the military bought six in June of 1934, after a series of plane crashes earlier that year immediately following the US Army Air Corps’ takeover of US Air Mail service. Those accidents had revealed the pilots’ lack of training, particularly under night-time or inclement weather conditions. By the end of World War II, some 500,000 pilots had used the “Link Trainer,” and flight simulators have since become an integral part of pilot (and subsequently, astronaut) training.

    (There’s a good term paper to be written – you are writing a term paper, right? – about the history of virtual reality and the promises and presumptions it makes about simulation and learning and experiences and bodies. But mostly, I’d argue if I were writing it, that much of VR in classrooms today does not have its origins the Link Trainer as much as in the educational films that you read about in Larry Cuban’s Teachers and Machines. But I digress.)

    The military works along a different principle for organizing and disseminating knowledge than does, say, the university or the library. The military is largely interested in teaching “skills.” Or perhaps more accurately, this is how military training is largely imagined and discussed: “skills training.” (Officer training, to be fair, is slightly different.) The military is invested in those skills – and in the teaching of those skills – being standardized. All this shapes the kinds of educational software and hardware that gets developed and adopted.

    One of the challenges the military has faced, particularly in the twentieth century, is helping veterans to translate their skills into language that schools and civilian hiring managers understand. This is, of course, the origin of the GED test, which was developed during WWII as a way to assess whether those soldiers who’d dropped out of high school in order to enlist had attained high-school level skills – to demonstrate “competency” rather than rely on “seat time,” to put this in terms familiar to educational debates today. There has also been the challenge of translating skills within the military itself – say, from branch to branch – and within and across other federal agencies. New technologies, to a certain extent, have complicated things by introducing often incompatible software systems in which instruction occurs. And at the end of the day, the military demands regimentation, standardization – culturally, technologically.

    I just want to lay out an abbreviated timeline here to help situate some of my following remarks:

    I’m not suggesting here that the Web marks the origins of ed-tech. Again, you’ve read Larry Cuban’s work; you know that there’s a much longer history of teaching machines. But in the 1990s, we did witness a real explosion in not just educational software, but in educational software that functioned online.

    In January of 1999, President Clinton signed Executive Order 13111 – “Using Technology To Improve Training Opportunities for Federal Government Employees.” Here’s the opening paragraph, which I’m going to read – apologies – simply because it sounds as though it could be written today:

    Advances in technology and increased skills needs are changing the workplace at an ever increasing rate. These advances can make Federal employees more productive and provide improved service to our customers, the American taxpayers. We need to ensure that we continue to train Federal employees to take full advantage of these technological advances and to acquire the skills and learning needed to succeed in a changing workplace. A coordinated Federal effort is needed to provide flexible training opportunities to employees and to explore how Federal training programs, initiatives, and policies can better support lifelong learning through the use of learning technology.

    One of the mandates of the Executive Order was to:

    in consultation with the Department of Defense and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, recommend standards for training software and associated services purchased by Federal agencies and contractors. These standards should be consistent with voluntary industry consensus-based commercial standards. Agencies, where appropriate, should use these standards in procurements to promote reusable training component software and thereby reduce duplication in the development of courseware.

    This call for standards – and yes, the whole idea of “standards” is deeply ideological – eventually became SCORM, the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (and one of the many acronyms that, if you work with education technology, will make people groan – and groan almost as much as a related acronym does: the LMS, the learning management system).

    Indeed, SCORM and the LMS – their purposes, their histories – are somewhat inseparable. (And I want you to consider the implications of that: that the demands of the federal government and the US military for a standardized “elearning” experience has profoundly shaped one of the foundational pieces of ed-tech that is used today by almost all colleges and increasingly even K–12 schools.)

    The SCORM standard was designed, in part, to make it possible to easily move educational content from one learning management system to another. Among the goals: reusability, interoperability, and durability of content and courses. (I’m not going to go into too much technical detail here, but I do want to recognize that this did require addressing some significant technical challenges.) SCORM had three components: content packaging, runtime communications, and course metadata. The content packaging refers to the packaging of all the resources needed to deliver a course into a single ZIP file. The runtime communications includes the runtime commands for communicating student information to and from the LMS, as well as the metadata for storing information on individual students. And the course metadata, obviously, includes things like course title, description, keywords, and so on. SCORM, as its full name implies, served to identify “sharable content objects” – that is the smallest unit in a course that contains meaningful learning content by itself – content objects that might be extracted and reused in another course. The third version of SCORM, SCORM 2004, also introduced sequencing, identifying the order in which these content objects should be presented.

    The implications of all this are fairly significant, particularly if we think about the SCORM initiative as something that’s helped, almost a decade ago, to establish and refine what’s become the infrastructure of the learning management system and other instructional software, as something that’s influenced the development as well of some of the theories of modern instructional design. (Theory is, of course, ideology. But, again, so is infrastructure.) The infrastructure of learning software shapes how we think about “content” and how we think about “skills” and how we think about “learning.” (And “we” here, to be clear, includes a broad swath of employers, schools, software makers, and the federal government – so that’s a pretty substantial “we.”)

    I will spare you the details of decades worth of debates about learning objects. It’s important to note, however, that there are decades of debate and many, many critics of the concept – Paulo Freire, for example, and his critique of the “banking model of information.” There are the critics too who argue for “authentic,” “real-world” learning, something that almost by definition learning objects – designed to move readily from software system to software system, from course to course, from content module to content module, from context to context – can never offer. I’d be remiss if I did not mention the work of open education pioneer David Wiley and what he has called the “reusability paradox,” which to summarize states that if a learning object is pedagogically useful in a specific context, it will not be useful in a different context. Furthermore, the most decontextualized learning objects are reusable in many contexts, but those are not pedagogically useful.

    But like I said at the outset, in my own line of inquiry I’m less interested in what’s “pedagogically useful” than I am in what gets proposed by industry and what becomes predominant – the predominant tech, the predominant practice, the predominant narrative, and so on.

    Learning objects have been blasted by theorists and practitioners, but they refuse to go away. Why?

    The predominant narratives today about the future of learning are all becoming deeply intertwined with artificial intelligence. We should recognize that these narratives have been influenced by decades of thinking in a certain way about information and knowledge and learning (in humans and in machines): as atomized learning objects and as atomized, standardized skills.

    There’s a long history of criticism of the idea of “intelligence” – its origins in eugenics; its use as a mechanism for race- and gender-based exclusion and sorting. It’s a history that educational psychology, deeply intertwined with the development of measurements and assessments, has not always been forthright about. Education technology, with its origins in educational psychology, is implicated in this. And now we port this history of “intelligence” – one steeped in racism and bias – onto machines.

    But we’re also porting a history of “skills” onto machines as well. This is, of course, the marketing used for Amazon’s Alexa. Developers “build” skills. They “teach” skills to the device. And it’s certainly debatable whether many of these are useful at all. But again, that’s not the only way to think about teaching machines. Whether or not something is “pedagogically useful,” here are reasons why the stories about it stick. The narrative about AI and skills is something to pay attention to – particularly alongside larger discussions about the so-called “skills gap.”


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  • 09/15/17--08:30: Hack Education Weekly News
  • (National) Education Politics


    US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos launched a “rethink schools” tour. Here are some reports from her travels:

    Via Chalkbeat: “What is Betsy DeVos’s ‘rethink school’ initiative all about? Her Wyoming speech offers clues.”

    DeVos visited my hometown of Casper, Wyoming to give this speech where she spoke at the Woods Learning Center. She was there to tout “choice,” something that she says most public school students and their families do not have. (This is part of her push for vouchers.) When I was growing up the building that now houses Woods was a school for students with special needs, including at one time, a school for deaf students. I’ve been thinking about the history of the language of “choice” and how “choice” and the lack of “choice” has been intertwined segregation and discrimination. That’s not the story that DeVos wants to tell, of course.)

    Via Chalkbeat: “Here’s what Betsy DeVos had to say in Denver about DACA, student loans and opting out of state tests.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “Betsy DeVos is headed to an Indianapolis high school for students recovering from addiction.”

    “What DeVos Got Wrong in Her Speech on the ’Dear Colleague’ Letter,” Scott Schneider writes in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    (State and Local) Education Politics


    Via The LA Times: “L.A. school board president faces felony charges over campaign contributions.” Ref Rodriguez, like most of the current members of the LAUSD school board, has strong financial backing from the charter school industry.

    More LAUSD news in the legal section below.

    Via The New York Times: “After More Than 20 Years, Newark to Regain Control of Its Schools.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “‘Common Core’ no more: New York moves to adopt revised standards with new name.”

    Via the AP: “School at Cook County Jail reported phony attendance numbers.” That’s according to an audit by the Chicago Public Schools’ inspector general of an alternative high school inside the jail.

    Via The LA Times: “ Offering free computers, a small L.A. school district enrolled Catholic school students from Bakersfield.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The University of North Carolina system Board of Governors voted 24 to 3, with one abstention, Friday to bar litigation by the UNC Chapel Hill School of Law’s Center for Civil Rights. The proposal voted on is technically a ban on all centers and institutes engaging in litigation, but the only entity that litigates is the Center for Civil Rights.” The center, as the name suggests, does legal work for civil rights and low-income groups. Do keep this in mind while conservatives try to argue that the big threat to “free speech on campus” is young leftists.

    Immigration and Education


    Via ProPublica: “Relatives of Undocumented Children Caught Up in ICE Dragnet.”

    There’s more on immigration and Trump’s move to end DACA in the legal section below.

    Education in the Courts


    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “U. of California Sues Trump Administration Over DACA Decision.”

    Via The LA Times: “L.A. Unified settles lawsuits with teacher Rafe Esquith.”

    The Business of Student Loans (and the Business of Paying for School)


    SoFi: a student loan company and one of the most well-funded ed-tech companies out there sure seems swell. Via The New York Times: “‘It Was a Frat House’: Inside the Sex Scandal That Toppled SoFi’s C.E.O..”

    More on SoFi in the HR section below.

    RaiseMe, a platform that allows students to earn incremental college scholarship dollars as they attain academic and other goals in high school, is expanding its offering to community college students,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Via Buzzfeed: “Got Student Debt? Soon Your Employer Might Help With That.”

    Via Edsurge: “As Bootcamps Look for Novel Ways for Students to Pay For Their Studies, Many Try ‘Deferred Tuition’.”

    Do note how student financial aid startups are still raising venture capital (and how now, I guess, ed-tech publications cover these stories when before they insisted these weren’t ed-tech).

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Department of Veterans Affairs intends to grant employees a waiver of a rule barring receipt of salary or other benefits from for-profit colleges. The proposed regulation was published in the federal register Thursday and would take effect next month without ‘adverse comment.’”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs this week backed Ashford University‘s attempt to shift its state-based eligibility for veterans’ benefits from Iowa to Arizona, likely preserving the for-profit university’s access to Post–9/11 GI Bill and active-duty military tuition benefits.”

    Delta Career Education Corporation, a privately held for-profit college company, is phasing out seven of its campuses,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    There’s more for-profit news in the HR and accreditation sections below.

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


    California Should Watch Arkansas Process for Creating New Online Institution,” says Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill.

    Meanwhile on Campus…


    Harvard has rescinded its appointment of Chelsea Manning as a fellow in its Institute of Politics.

    Harvard has also rescinded the acceptance of Michelle Jones to its PhD program in history. More from The Marshall Project: “In prison for more than 20 years, Michelle Jones was chosen for Harvard’s elite graduate history program – until the university decided her redemption was not enough.”

    Via The Spokesman-Review: “One student dead, three in hospital after classmate opens fire at Freeman High School.” The high school is in Spokane, Washington.

    “Who Gets Rescheduled at Berkeley,” asks Inside Higher Ed. “It’s not Milo.” (It’s Anna Tsing, an anthropology professor at UC Santa Cruz. Priorities.)

    Via The New York Times: “Bannon Will Address Berkeley, a Hotbed of Conflict Over Free Speech.”

    Via Mother Jones: “She Was a Rising Star at a Major University. Then a Lecherous Professor Made Her Life Hell.” The professor in question: Richard Aslin at the University of Rochester.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A University of Virginia working group convened after white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville, Va., in August has released an assessment on the university’s response and what it could have done better. It points to policies the university can pro-actively ennact, and laws that could have been enforced by university police.”

    Via David Perry: “A professor of Atmospheric Sciences stepped down (he was 70) at the University of Illinois rather than appropriately address accommodations in his classroom. His emails to the student emerged in the process, including one he BCC’d to the entire class saying disability support doesn’t belong on campus.”

    Birmingham-Southern Cuts Tuition in Half,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Via Phil Hill: “Some Ed Tech Perspective on UC’s Billion-Dollar Payroll System Fiasco.”

    Accreditation and Certification


    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Terminated Accreditor Applies for Recognition.” That’s the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, which accredits mostly for-profits and whose federal recognition the Obama Administration had moved to rescind.

    Educause has published an article about “The Mastery Transcript Consortium,” a group of independent schools that are “reinventing” the college transcript. (I’m skeptical that this is as powerful as folks claim until it exists equitably across schools and not only among those that already given students a leg-up in the college admissions process.)

    “A regional accreditor recently denied an Arizona community college’s bid to increase its online degree offerings, with a decision that highlights challenges colleges may face when seeking to expand their online presence,” Inside Higher Ed reports. The community college: Scottsdale Community College. The accreditor: the Higher Learning Commission.

    Via The CBC: “Toronto man ‘angry’ after learning his $8,100 master’s degree that required no exams or academic work is fake.” This “Toronto man” is Erwin Sniedzins, who runs an ed-tech company called Mount Knowledge.

    More research on certification in the research section below.

    Go, School Sports Team!


    “How does a university go about replacing a live mascot?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Steve Kolowich.

    From the HR Department


    Via The New York Times: “SoFi Board Says C.E.O. Is Out Immediately Amid Sexual Harassment Scandal.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Laureate Education Inc. announced Thursday that effective Jan. 1, 2018, Eilif Serck-Hanssen will become the for-profit company’s new chief executive officer and Ricardo Berckemeyer will take over as the company’s president. Serck-Hanssen is replacing current CEO Douglas Becker, who will become the nonexecutive chairman of Laureate’s Board of Directors.”

    danah boyd has announced that she’ll be stepping down from running her research organization Data & Society. The new executive director: Janet Haven.

    Upgrades and Downgrades


    Apple had a thing. Its website touts the “Highlights from Apple’s keynote event.” Among the new features: facial recognition to unlock the new iPhone. I swear if I see anyone arguing this will be great for education…

    “Just What the Heck Was That XQ Super School Live Special?” asks Edsurge. John Merrow also has thoughts on the TV show.

    Inside Higher Ed writes about the messaging app Islands and wonders if it’s “the next Yik Yak.”

    According to WCET, “Developing Effective Courses Using Adaptive Learning Begins with Proper Alignment.”

    Via Getting Smart: “Virtual and Augmented Reality in Personalized Learning.”

    Tom Vander Ark lists “15 Dimensions of Personalized Learning.”

    Via Edsurge: “Questioning the Core Assumptions of Personalized Learning With Math Blogger Dan Meyer.”

    More on “personalization” in the “research” section below.

    Michael Horn profiles John Danner about his new tutoring startup Zeal: “John Danner, Education Entrepreneur, Doubles Down On Human Capital.”

    Via Engadget: “Snapchat plans to add college newspapers to its Discover section.”

    This headline doesn’t quite have the right structure to go in the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section, although I’d wager we do know the answer to the question: “Can Techie Parents Reinvent School For Everyone - Or Just Their Rich Kids?

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


    Can Artificial Intelligence Help Teachers Find the Right Lesson Plans?asks Education Week.

    Will AI Be The Next Big Thing In The Classroom?asks Forbes.

    Could an App Help Teachers Recognize Their Own Biases?asks Education Week.

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


    “​Teachers Can Now Use IBM’s Watson to Search for Free Lesson Plans,” Edsurge pronounces. IBM wants us to believe that Watson is incredibly powerful – powerful enough, even, to search 1000 OER. Wowee.

    There’s more about IBM Watson (and AI in general) in the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section, because of course.

    Speaking of bullshit, the Calling Bullshit course challenges a study that’s been in the news recently claiming that AI can identify sexual orientation based on people’s faces. More on this study in IHE.

    Wow, this story is getting a lot of play: via TES: “Machines ‘will replace teachers within 10 years’.” From iNews: “Within ten years, human teachers will be phased out, replaced by machines, says vice chancellor.”

    Via Education Dive: “Researcher: AI won’t replace teachers.”

    Via TeacherCast: “Why Teachers Will Never Be Replaced By Robots.”

    Inside Higher Ed on Robot-Proof: “Northeastern president discusses his new book on how higher education can train students for careers where technology cannot make them redundant.”

    Via Campus Technology: “ProctorU Intros AI-Based Online Proctoring”: “Machine learning allows ProctorU Auto to adapt to student behavior, improving its analysis with each exam.”

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform


    “Great EdTech Success Story Turns Into The Biggest Philanthropic Story of the Year,” Getting Smart argues, pointing to Curriculum Associates’ donation of its stock to the Iowa State University Foundation. Iowa State University Foundation has, in turn, sold the stock to Berkshire Partners for around $145 million.

    Via Edsurge: “Salesforce Gifts $12.2M to Expand Computer Science in S.F., Oakland Public Schools.”

    “Charity is no substitute for justice withheld” – St. Augustine

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


    Absorb Software has raised $59 million from Silversmith Capital Partners to build an LMS.

    Unacademy has raised $11.5 million in Series B funding from Sequoia India, SAIF Partners, Nexus Venture Partners, and Blume Ventures. The online education platform has raised $17.5 million total.

    MissionU has raised $8.5 million in Series A funding from FirstMark, BoxGroup, First Round Capital, John Doerr, Learn Capital, Omidyar Network, Rethink Education, and University Ventures. The “startup university” has raised $11.5 million total. (No disclosure from Edsurge in its coverage of the funding that it shares several investors with MissionU. No disclosure to that end on any of the stories it’s published on the startup – three all told. Not too shabby for a school that just opened to its first cohort.)

    Piper has raised $7.6 million in Series A funding Owl Ventures, Reach Capital, StartX, and Charles Huang. The Minecraft-based-engineering company has raised $9.75 million total.

    Vemo Education has raised $7.4 million in seed funding from University Ventures, NextGen Venture Partners, Route 66 Ventures, Third Kind Venture Capital, Haystack Partners, and Task Force X Capital. It’s a platform for incoming-sharing agreements.

    Credly has raised $4.6 million from New Markets Venture Partners. The credentialing company has raised $7.1 million total.

    Carnegie Learning has acquired Globaloria.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


    The Equifax breach isn’t an ed-tech story, of course. But let’s just say that the kind of negligence that led to it – Equifax not fixing a known security flaw – is far too commonplace in education.

    Via Bill Fitzgerald: “Protecting Ourselves From the Equifax Data Breach, and Data Brokers in General.”

    “Why do big hacks happen?” asks Jathan Sadowski in The Guardian. “Blame Big Data.”

    Again, keep this in mind as schools and ed-tech feel compelled to gather more and more data.

    Via Dark Reading: “72% of Educational Institutions Lack Designated InfoSec Staff.”

    Via KTNV: “Foothill High School regains control of Twitter account after hack.” That’s an updated headline as the school’s Twitter account remained hacked – with obscene language and images posted to it – for days. Just a reminder that Twitter does not care about your school’s social media initiative. At all.

    Via The New York Times: “The Downside of Checking Kids’ Grades Constantly.”

    Research, “Research,” and Reports


    Via Politico: “How U.S. News college rankings promote economic inequality on campus.”

    Via the South China Morning Report: “China’s online education market to grow 20pc annually, bolstered by new technologies.”

    Via YourStory: “Despite drop in funding, edtech still presents a huge opportunity.”

    British girls‘logging off’ from CS: What’s the real problem?” asks Mark Guzdial.

    From Silicon Schools: “All That We’ve Learned: Five Years Working on Personalized Learning.”

    Education Elements has also released a report on personalized learning.

    Via Brookings: “Signs of digital distress: Mapping broadband availability and subscription in American neighborhoods.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Ambitious college-completion goals set by the Obama administration and the Lumina Foundation are unlikely to be met, according to a new analysis from Educational Testing Service, the standardized-assessment organization.”

    “What happens after American higher education contracts?” asks Bryan Alexander.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “More than a quarter of Americans hold a non-degree credential, with 21 percent completing a work experience program, new federal data shows. And many of these credential holders have well-paying jobs.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “Efforts to ‘raise the bar’ for becoming a teacher are running headlong into efforts to diversify the profession. Now what?”

    “Research in Translation: Cultural Limits of Self-Regulated Learning,” by Mindwires Consulting’s Michael Feldstein.

    The World Education blog on some of the latest research about private school operators, including Bridge International Academies, in Liberia.

    Via Education Dive: “29% of teens report having cheated with devices.”

    I’m cited in this Education Week story on the latest Horizon Report.

    Via Nieman Lab: “ Adding a ‘disputed’ label to fake news seems to work, a little. But for some groups, it actually backfires.” (You can bet that “fake news” is going to be one of this year’s “top ed-tech trends.”)

    A new report from the Pew Research Center: “How People Approach Facts and Information.”

    Results from an AFT-backed poll: “National Poll Finds Parents Want Safe, Welcoming, Well-Funded Neighborhood Public Schools; Overwhelmingly Support Public Schools.”

    Poll results from“The Gallup 2017 Survey of K–12 School District Superintendents.”

    Via USA Today: “Survey: Millennials hold complex views on education.”

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “Americans Losing Faith in College Degrees, Poll Finds.”

    Via Campus Technology: “Survey of Tech in Education Finds Mixed Results.” Better keep hyping it anyway…

    Icon credits: The Noun Project


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